Yacha Salud

In rural areas of Peru, 7 of 10 individuals are poor. The majority of the rural poor are active in agriculture, mainly as producers and often with limited access to health, education and markets. The Sierra region consistently has the worst indicators for access to health, water and sanitation services, education, poverty and extreme poverty.

In Peru the quality of available health care is a problem. Health services tend to take a curative rather than a preventive approach, because of the training of health personnel. Health professionals may not speak the same language, which creates a barrier in interpersonal communication and creates in the population a fear of poor treatment.

In Peru health problems do not solely rest on the access to health services but the problems are also embedded in behavioral and cultural practices. Cultural practices are particularly influential in matters of food consumption and hygiene. Certain traditional health practices may have strong ceremonial or religious ties, or may be preferred by a population simply as a matter of tradition.

In Peru an integrated public health strategy has not until now been implemented on a national or regional scale, whether due to lack of technical capacity, administrative constraints, or lack of political will.

New local initiatives emphasize participation of schools. In addition to education the new approach includes education on health, hygiene, nutrition and entrepreneurship. They are more applicable to Peru, due to understanding of budget, government, and cultural constraints.

Evidence from around the world demonstrates that investments in public health and education are fundamental to improving human welfare, resistance to disease and reduce poverty through improving worker productivity. Integrating health, hygiene and nutrition messages into the basic education curriculum, particularly for girls, could be an effective approach to improving health of future generations.

Non-governmental organizations in Peru have many years of experience working successfully with the model of community health promoters. The public sector has started to establish a system of community health promoters affiliated with the health sector, who would have direct contact with families in their homes, providing outreach, services, and learning activities related to health, hygiene, and nutrition.

We propose to develop Yacha Salud in the 8 poorest regions of Peru, around 6 million people. The target groups for the proposed media project are school children; school teachers; pregnant and lactating women; adolescent mothers and girls; household in extreme poverty; health professionals and health promoters.

Content will be designed according to national health guidelines and based on local successful strategies for community health. We are involved with the formulation and review of health-related programs.

Health professionals and health promoters will receive technical assistance and training on Community Health and ICTs tools, enabling then to participate in the creation of content. The training materials will be distributed through partnership with our Peruvian partners that can translate it into native languages and add relevant localized content. The project will be implemented in a decentralized manner for maximum responsiveness to local needs. The ICTs training will be implemented by our local partner. The curriculum includes practical classes on use of Wikis (Wikimedia), Blogs (WordPress) and CMS (Drupal).

The initiative’s focus on Health, Hygiene and Nutrition addresses an unmet need with tremendous potential: Improving household access to and use of quality health information and services translate into healthier, better educated families that can benefit generations to come.

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