Monday, June 30, 2008

Quichua Health Care Project!

btw: for some fun pictures and different perspectives on Ecuador, you all should visit Chrisitna´s blog

So.. though I love telling you all about the details of traveling and sight-seeing, real reason Christina and I are in Quito is because we`re working on an HST (Harvard-MIT) health care project with the Amazonian indigenous people called Quichuas.
The Quichua lack basic health care and suffer greatly from a lack of first-aid knowledge. We worked with a business school student and ER doctor this past semester and through this summer to develop a comprehensive wound kit and telemedicine scheme to aid the Quichua people.

Our project goals changed a bit since the completion of our HST class. We were to bring a portable aid kit for wounds to the Quichua community and teach volunteers about wound care so that they could treat emergency cases in the large and difficult-to-traverse community. We also worked on a partnership with Wound Technology Network who will provide the community free telemedicine consultation- the idea is that a health care volunteer will take pictures of wounds they do not know how to handle, email it to WTN, and then get free physican feedback on how to treat it.

We were able to commute to the community center (40 min motorized canoe ride) every day with the help of our amazing native Quichua guides, Javier and Freddy. They grew up in the Amazon but through their studies learned english very well and have studied at university. They really wanted to give back to their community so they work for Sani Lodge. We were able to give our medical supplies to Blanca, the community health volunteer who really appreciated them. We also got great response for our telemedicine scheme and our native guides really want to make it happen. We spoke to village headmen and community members to learn more about their health care system, deficiencies in health education, and their response to our telemedicine and health education schemes. We collected a lot of data and presented many solutions to their problems.

We are now in Quito and are workign directly with the lodges' administrative offices to get support and funding for our project goals. We were able to give a donated camera to the community and hope to get the telemedicine rolling as internet becomes more available to the community. We're goign to visit a shaman and the Quito Medical school later this week. We hope to get donated medical books and possible scholarships for people in the community to become better trained in health care. So far, it's been a very positive experience- Sani Isla is a really enthusiastic and forward-thinking community that's been backing us the whole way. We hope the positive experinece continues until July 9!

More on the Amazon soon...

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