Get To Know Anconcito Part 2 : Current Health Services

Anconcito is served by one government-run health center, which provides free health services to every person with an Ecuadorian ID card, regardless of income or insurance status. In the second installment of our photo series, we explore the current health services available to Anconcito residents. Hover over the images below to learn more.

Health centers in Ecuador are categorized as type A, B, or C according to the size of the population they serve, with “A” facilities serving the smallest populations and “C” centers serving the largest. Anconcito’s health post is “Type A”, designed to serve populations of 2,000-10,000 (Anconcito’s population is about 14,000). 

Health centers in Ecuador are categorized as type A, B, or C according to the size of the population they serve, with “A” facilities serving the smallest populations and “C” centers serving the largest. Anconcito’s health post is “Type A”, designed to serve populations of 2,000-10,000 (Anconcito’s population is about 14,000). 

Because of Anconcito’s status as a rural health post, the doctors who staff the facility are actually students completing their final year of medical school. All health care professionals in Ecuador are required to complete a “rural year” in which they are randomly assigned to work in a rural health post anywhere in the country for one year. All of the general practitioners and most of the nurses are rural year students, while the specialists (obstetrician, dentist, and psychologist) are licensed doctors.

Because of Anconcito’s status as a rural health post, the doctors who staff the facility are actually students completing their final year of medical school. All health care professionals in Ecuador are required to complete a “rural year” in which they are randomly assigned to work in a rural health post anywhere in the country for one year. All of the general practitioners and most of the nurses are rural year students, while the specialists (obstetrician, dentist, and psychologist) are licensed doctors.

While the Ministry of Health determines that public health centers should have one general practitioner for every 1500-2500 inhabitants, the Anconcito health center currently only has two (down from 5 the previous year due to budget cuts). They also have one obstetrician, a dentist, and a psychologist. Dr. Jessenia, the health center’s dentist, is pictured above. Cases requiring other types of specialists are referred to the public hospital in the nearby town of Salinas, about 20 minutes away. 

While the Ministry of Health determines that public health centers should have one general practitioner for every 1500-2500 inhabitants, the Anconcito health center currently only has two (down from 5 the previous year due to budget cuts). They also have one obstetrician, a dentist, and a psychologist. Dr. Jessenia, the health center’s dentist, is pictured above. Cases requiring other types of specialists are referred to the public hospital in the nearby town of Salinas, about 20 minutes away. 

The goal of providing free health services to all Ecuadorians is admirable, but in practice the system is overburdened and underfunded. Because the health center is so understaffed residents must wait months for appointments, and even once they are seen the facility lacks basic supplies and equipment to attend to the needs of its patients. People are regularly sent to the nearest pharmacy to buy basic supplies like gauze, Band-Aids, and syringes for injections. They are prescribed medications that are out of stock at the health center, so they must purchase them themselves. Mothers of newborns must wait months for vaccines to be available to vaccinate their children against deadly diseases. 

The goal of providing free health services to all Ecuadorians is admirable, but in practice the system is overburdened and underfunded. Because the health center is so understaffed residents must wait months for appointments, and even once they are seen the facility lacks basic supplies and equipment to attend to the needs of its patients. People are regularly sent to the nearest pharmacy to buy basic supplies like gauze, Band-Aids, and syringes for injections. They are prescribed medications that are out of stock at the health center, so they must purchase them themselves. Mothers of newborns must wait months for vaccines to be available to vaccinate their children against deadly diseases. 

Despite the health center’s limited resources, they recognize the importance of community-based health interventions and education to prevent disease and improve overall health. In these photos, Dr. Melba is conducting home visits with pregnant women to check their health status. Pregnant women generally receive one visit per month, as do other special groups such as people with disabilities, senior citizens, underweight children, and those with injuries that prevent them from traveling to the health center. 

Despite the health center’s limited resources, they recognize the importance of community-based health interventions and education to prevent disease and improve overall health. In these photos, Dr. Melba is conducting home visits with pregnant women to check their health status. Pregnant women generally receive one visit per month, as do other special groups such as people with disabilities, senior citizens, underweight children, and those with injuries that prevent them from traveling to the health center. 

FIMRC volunteers often have the chance to accompany doctors on their home visits, which gives them the opportunity to learn about health services in a developing country. The doctors also take the time to teach volunteers basic skills such as taking blood pressure, determining the baby’s position inside the mother, and finding the heartbeat.

FIMRC volunteers often have the chance to accompany doctors on their home visits, which gives them the opportunity to learn about health services in a developing country. The doctors also take the time to teach volunteers basic skills such as taking blood pressure, determining the baby’s position inside the mother, and finding the heartbeat.

In addition to checkups, the doctors also educate families on health topics pertinent to them. In these photos, Dr. Melba educates a young mother on the importance of breastfeeding and provides a lesson about warning signs during pregnancy and after childbirth. These educational initiatives allow women to take control of their own health and that of their families, while lessening their reliance on the health center. 

In addition to checkups, the doctors also educate families on health topics pertinent to them. In these photos, Dr. Melba educates a young mother on the importance of breastfeeding and provides a lesson about warning signs during pregnancy and after childbirth. These educational initiatives allow women to take control of their own health and that of their families, while lessening their reliance on the health center. 

In addition to providing home-based health services, the doctors visit local elementary schools to screen children for various health issues. They conduct vision tests, take weights and heights, give dental exams, and provide lessons on themes like hand-washing, nutrition, and hygiene. 

In addition to providing home-based health services, the doctors visit local elementary schools to screen children for various health issues. They conduct vision tests, take weights and heights, give dental exams, and provide lessons on themes like hand-washing, nutrition, and hygiene. 

This is one area in which FIMRC volunteers at Project Anconcito have been instrumental in improving the capacity of the local health center. Our volunteers assist the doctors in collecting information, which allows them to more than double the number of students they can see in the allotted time period. They also give health talks to the students on various themes, which frees up the doctors to provide one-on-one attention to the children and keeps the class occupied while testing is going on.

This is one area in which FIMRC volunteers at Project Anconcito have been instrumental in improving the capacity of the local health center. Our volunteers assist the doctors in collecting information, which allows them to more than double the number of students they can see in the allotted time period. They also give health talks to the students on various themes, which frees up the doctors to provide one-on-one attention to the children and keeps the class occupied while testing is going on.

Despite the health center’s limited resources, its dedicated health professionals are working tirelessly to provide not only health services, but much-needed health education to Anconcito’s residents. Our goal at Project Anconcito is to support their goals and, with the help of local and international volunteers, strengthen their capacity and allow them to serve the population as effectively as possible. Our work is only just beginning, and we are excited to see where it will take us.

Despite the health center’s limited resources, its dedicated health professionals are working tirelessly to provide not only health services, but much-needed health education to Anconcito’s residents. Our goal at Project Anconcito is to support their goals and, with the help of local and international volunteers, strengthen their capacity and allow them to serve the population as effectively as possible. Our work is only just beginning, and we are excited to see where it will take us.

Posted on October 18, 2016 and filed under Ecuador, Project Anconcito.