Begin your trip in Guayaquil, where you will spend four weeks attending Spanish language classes while taking part in clinical rotations in government primary healthcare clinics in an urban environment, as well as brigades with public health personnel working to eradicate and prevent vector-borne diseases like malaria and dengue.
The next four weeks will be spent in the town of Puyo, in the Amazon Basin. Here, you will learn about health issues facing rural and indigenous communities in rural areas. Focus on rural and community medicine and gain exposure to infectious and tropical disease. Interact with the community through rotations in rural and suburban primary healthcare clinics, helping local healthcare staff with patient histories, basic physical exams, and other clinical duties. Go on home visits with local clinic staff to treat and follow up on patients with diabetes, hypertension, tuberculosis, etc. You will also learn about conservation and indigenous health issues with local nonprofits working to preserve fragile ecosystems and advocating for indigenous rights.
On your rotations around Ecuador, you will witness the ways in which socio-economic and cultural factors have shaped the healthcare system of the region, and come away from an understanding of how lifestyle, behavior, and environment influence urban and rural health outcomes.
Guayaquil portion of the program (urban):
Primary Healthcare Clinics (Private and Public) – Located in the downtown area offering free or low cost services to patients without health insurance. Services include detection and treatment of chronic diseases and acute ones like hypertension, diabetes, asthma and arthritis. Basic maternal and child health services are also provided as well as family planning services. Join local physicians and partake in physical exams, patient histories and treatment for uninsured populations.
Malaria Eradication Center – This under-funded public center is responsible for combating malaria and other vector-borne disease in Guayaquil, covering a vast area of la Provincial del Guayas. Join professionals and help compile malaria, dengue and Chagas statistics, research outbreaks, and participate in community education campaigns.
Puyo portion of the program (rural):
Rural Primary Healthcare Center- This small public primary healthcare clinic, about 40 minutes outside of Puyo by bus, is located at the mouth of the Amazon jungle. It serves a largely indigenous population that travel 4-6 hours from deep within the jungle to seek care. Join local practitioners who provide primary care, obstetrics, immunizations, and treat emergencies such as snakebites and machete wounds. Take part in community visits providing preventative care, vaccinations, and well child check-ups.
Indigenous Community Visits-
Hike into the Amazon jungle to visit an indigenous community and learn about the Shuar tribe. Unlike tribes that regularly receive tourists, this community works exclusively with CFHI participants and thus provides an authentic perspective of Shuar culture and daily family life. Learn about the unique worldview of the Shuar, their uses for traditional medicinal plants and important spiritual practices. Spend time with village children, sharing personal skills or knowledge such as art, music, or sports. Experience a traditional welcoming ceremony for guests and hike to a sacred waterfall.
Suburban Primary Healthcare Center- This small public primary healthcare clinic located 15 minutes by bus from Puyo, in the small hamlet of Mera. The clinic offers free services to patients without health insurance, including detection and treatment of chronic and acute disease like hypertension, diabetes, asthma and arthritis. Basic maternal and child health care services, such as family planning and vaccinations, are also provided. Join local physicians providing physical exams, patient histories and treatment.
Farmworkers Clinic- This small rural facility is located in one of the smallest cities in Ecuador. It is one of ten clinics in the Pastaza province specifically serving farmworkers. Join local clinic staff providing primary care, dental services, and treating farming related injuries. The clinic also does community education workshops focusing on education and prevention of common health issues.
Environmental NGO- On the site of a former cow pasture now lays a reforested botanical garden. Visit this project that has been in existence over 20 years. See local insect, plant and reptile species, many of which are threatened and facing extinction. Learn from local experts about environmental health, botany, animal husbandry, forestry, entomology, and the sociocultural and political aspects of preserving the jungle ecosystem in this community.
Open-air Cultural Center-
Located in downtown Puyo on the banks of a river this center promotes conservation of tropical wetlands and increases visibility and awareness about indigenous Amazonian cultures. Indigenous guides provide important cultural and medicinal information about the seven different ethnic groups that inhabit the Pastaza province. Learn about indigenous beliefs related to health. Opportunities may be available to assist with projects such as the medicinal plant garden, building of eco-friendly latrines, native huts, etc.
Clinical rotations are designed to offer interns clinical and public health experience relevant to their level of medical education, much like what one would experience during a rotation or internship in the United States. IE3 interns may work with CFHI’s local coordinators to identify the health care services/departments where they would like to spend more time.
NOTE: Rotation availability depends on local conditions. All rotations are subject to change depending on local availability and general Ecuadorian holidays. Local coordinators will try and make alternate arrangements if a particular activity or facility is not available.
CFHI programs are not episodic volunteer experiences, and are not designed to provide service to those who would otherwise not have healthcare. The learning objectives for interns with CFHI are:
- Develop a larger sense of cultural competency
- Observe and develop existing clinical skills
- Broaden public health knowledge
- Develop creativity in problem-solving
- Deepen their commitment to service
- Promote medical supply conservation