Rural Ecuadorian populations face a wide range of health care issues rooted in social, economic, and political determinants. A major issue for rural populations is the relative lack of access to high quality, reliable health care. Outpatient facilities are inaccessible and the nearest hospitals are typically hours away in major cities, forcing sick villagers to overcome geographic, economic, and cultural barriers to seek care. Those who are willing and able to pay for health services would greatly prefer to receive quality care in their own community if such facilities were available to them.

Primary Healthcare as a strategy has accomplished much in Ecuador. Nevertheless, women continue to suffer and often die from pregnancy complications. Children continue to die at an alarming rate from infectious diseases. Illnesses such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and arthritis, now more common because of an aging population, are not treated appropriately because most health professionals do not have the capacity to manage these chronic maladies in the rural setting. Only 15% of doctors in Ecuador have residency training, and the vast majority of these physicians live and work in the two major cities.

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Breakthrough Maternal/Child Health Grant from Ronald McDonald House Charities

As you all know, we’ve spent two decades working to improve medical care for Ecuador’s rural poor. And recently, this work and commitment earned a $1.5 million grant from Ronald McDonald House Charities® (RMHC®). This remarkable award validates the hard work of everyone in this organization, specifically because Andean Health is one of only four organizations to receive one of these prized global grants. This grant will help us specifically address maternal and newborn health services in Santo Domingo and the surrounding provinces.

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This is Vanesa, the very first baby born in the new RMHC maternal/child health program at Hesburgh Hospital.