Subcentro de Salud, La Y, Ecuador

Since its official inauguration in 2001, the Subcentro has been providing primary health care and outreach services to the 6,000 people that live in the 26 communities of the El Páramo region. Prior to our involvement, the nearest health facility was located two hours away from the central community and up to 13 hours away from more remote communities.

A key part of the project’s success in El Páramo is the recruitment and training of Community Health Workers. In 2001, one man and one woman from each village in the region were selected by their community to attend monthly workshops on health-related topics, such as first-aid, malaria testing, reproductive health, medicinal plants, prevention of gastrointestinal illness, and more. The Community Health Workers provide a crucial link between the health center and the surrounding communities.

As part of the Subcentro project, health center staff, community health workers, and volunteers have also developed and implemented a host of related initiatives, including vaccination campaigns, family planning and domestic violence workshops, first aid training, waste management projects, a medicinal plant garden, educational projects, and building of the first regional library. In the span of ten years, malaria – which was once a leading cause of mortality – has now been eradicated in El Páramo. As further indication, men, women, and children are receiving their full suite of vaccinations, women have learned about and are fighting to assert their right to live a life free of violence, and rates of contraceptive use have increased significantly within households throughout the region.