In Cuzco, DGH is providing health support and assistance to the Belen Clinic and serving the essential basic needs of the population. The needs are in the areas of medicine, health promotion and education, prevention of domestic violence, dentistry, obstetrics and nursing.
The Belen Clinic is in the Santiago district, the poorest and the most populated area of Cuzco, located within 10 minutes' walk from downtown--a highly touristy area that is in complete contrast to the area where the clinic is situated. The clinic was built on a site donated by the Santiago Municipality which used to be a garbage dump. There is a tremendous lack of health services for this impoverished population, with a very high incidence of domestic violence, spousal abandonment, malnutrition, post-traumatic stress disorder, infectious diseases and labor exploitation.
This Belen Clinic provides a diversity of services including general medicine, obstetrics, alternative medicine (used by most of the patients in conjunction to pharmacotherapy), orthopedics (once a week), physical therapy, dentistry, basic laboratory, and a pharmacy. The clinic also has an ambulatory team that serves several rural and isolated communities up to two hours from Cuzco in the Anta Province. The team consists of a physician, a nurse, a dentist, and an obstetrical nurse.
Belen Clinic is administered by the Santiago Parish, whose economic resources are rather limited. It began in 1987 through the efforts of Father Nicanor Acuna Yaya, who started providing basic health services in the parish house as a result of witnessing the high infant mortality in the congregation. The Santiago Parish also has a farm that trains the young indigenous population in organic farming, including dairy products, recovery of native produce, honey production, guinea pig breeding, etc. DGH was asked to partner with the Belen Clinic in 2008 and has been sending volunteers to accompany the community since.
The education of young adults through the Health Promoters Program includes four participants from area rural communities. This education continues on a weekly basis at the clinic with volunteers participating in teaching and through a monthly visit of educators to these rural communities. The students have formed an organization:"Rimasunchis Allin Kausanapaq Pakarisunchis" this is quechua, it means "Will speak so we can progress and have a better life". Volunteers have also initiated investigation of the role that domestic gender-based violence is impacting the Belen Clinic patients and community with hopes to evaluate what steps may now be taken to improve mental and physical health in the area. Some volunteers have spent time at the local Lorena Hospital for people with scarce resources where they worked with local physicians. Others are involved with Cristo Vive (an agency where I Consult and Supervise with victims of Domestic Violence, there is also work done with an Adolescent group in Yuncaypata, an indigenous community), with Fe y Alegria (a school that requested our help with families and adolescents in distress), and with an Orphanage in Izcuchaca ( a town about 40 minutes from Cuzco). In these different institutions they are teaching about Alcoholism and its consequences, teaching about adolescent development, female identity, sexuality awareness, etc. Also there is a developing cooperation with Defensoría del Pueblo(Organization that protects the people’s Human Rights) in area of HIV and Elderly Health rights.
We are involved in developing 2 main projects: research on domestic violence due to its high incidence in this region, and a program to prepare health promoters for the communities.