The Loreto region of Peru sits in the Amazon basin and is home of nearly 900,000 inhabitants. Its capital city, Iquitos, is the largest city in the world with no road access at approximately 400,000 inhabitants. Iquitos is also the home of the two public hospitals that are charged with serving the entire Loreto region, which covers over 350,000 km. The Global Health Track’s work in Iquitos and the surrounding villages has been done in conjunction with Centrua Health Medical Missions that travel to the region to provide much needed care. Recently, efforts have expanded to help establish a curriculum for community health workers in Iquitos and the surrounding villages.
We spent the first and last weeks of our summer participating in Centura’s missions, splitting ourselves between a surgical team in Iquitos; a community health team traveling daily from Iquitos to do clinics in villages on the Amazon River; and a community health team staying and doing clinics on the Napo River. During the six weeks between Centura trips, we spent about two and a half weeks in Iquitos. We spent two and a half weeks in San Pedro, a village of 300 inhabitants on the Lower Napo River, ten hours by boat to Iquitos. We also traveled to a dozen or so surrounding villages to meet with health promoters, who are lay people appointed to this role and tecnicos, who have three years of post-high school training and staff government health post scattered in every tenth village or so. These villages all belonged to the District of Mazan, whose capital, Mazan, is located six hours from San Pedro by motorized canoe, and has a clinic with two doctors serving the nearly 20,000 residents of the district. We spent several days in Mazan meeting with health workers and doctors there. We also visited two villages on the Amazon River, Santa Teresa and Sinchicuy, where we observed a CONAPAC water workshop and organized a town hall meeting to discuss the creation of committee to repair, run and maintain a broken water plant.
We spent time in several areas of the Peruvian rainforest, specifically throughout the Maynas Province of the Loreto Region. Our primary location was in the city of Iquitos, the capital city of the region. While in Iquitos, we worked directly with both local and Denver-based Centura healthcare providers in a private hospital, Clinica Ana Stahl. In addition, we accompanied the Centura Health Medical Missions teams to villages along the Amazon and Napo Rivers. While working in the clinics, we aided in translation, triage and physical exams and observed minor surgeries. We also spent time in Mazan, a larger village located on the isthmus between the Amazon and Napo Rivers. While in Mazan, we worked to remodel the Mazan Clinic, focusing specifically on the remodel of the maternity portion of the hospital. Upon completing our work in Mazan, we established a connection with a Lima-based Peruvian NGO, DB Peru. With DB Peru, we visited villages along the Napo River and established clinics in several of the villages. At the clinics, we provided medical attention under the supervision of Dr. Eric Bascunan, a Peruvian physician. In addition, we sought learning opportunities to expand our knowledge of herbal medicine and shamanic healing.