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On October 4, 2019, forty-eight team members from Global Health Volunteers traveled the long journey to Chulucanas, Peru for a 16-day medical and surgical mission. Three surgical rooms were bustling as Global Health volunteers collaborated with local doctors and nurses performing 105 surgeries (35 gynecological surgeries, 44 general surgeries, and 26 plastic surgeries). In addition to the much needed surgeries, a team of six Global Health volunteers and three local volunteers traveled by truck to different towns in the mountains bringing primary care visits to 487 patients.
While the team was in Pacaipampa, one of ten districts of the province Ayabaca in Peru, there was an opportunity to help bridge the gap of mistrust between local providers and the surrounding community. The team met two local doctors that worked at the Health Post (the health care facility that citizens with public insurance use). The team asked the two doctors to serve as providers just like the three providers from the United States. As they were working side-by-side, the local patients were able to see the trust that the "American providers" had in their own local providers. Father Will Tarazza wrote in a reflection about the experience,
"At the end of the morning [in Pacaipampa], it was clear that we were not going to be able to see all the patients waiting. Instead of turning them away, we simply instructed those waiting to visit the two local doctors in the 'Post' that afternoon. It was a wonderful opportunity to show the local people that they may trust the local doctors to assist them since 'the Americans' trusted them. The two doctors in this town demonstrated a desire to assist their people with professional medical care. As foreigners who enjoy an implicit trust from the people, our collaboration with the local doctors not only in Pacaipampa but also in several other small mountain towns, is a tremendous step in the right direction" (i.e. strengthening trust in the local health system).
It is a privilege for Global Health Volunteers to serve in Peru for the past 30 years and we look forward to returning in June 2020.