21 Nov Fall 2011 SaludCom Update
Despite Minga’s current efforts to find a new project to support, we remain committed to our partner communities in El Páramo, Ecuador and the SaludCom Project funded by a grant from Nokia. We are proud to share that the SaludCom project is successfully entering its third year. The project aims to improve communication between remote communities and the Subcentro de Salud (health center) in La Y de la Laguna and facilitate collection of demographic and epidemiological data in the region using Nokia Data gathering technology on smart phones.
Much of the project work up to this point has involved building the necessary infrastructure and local capacity to fully use the Data gathering technology and smart phones. Now that we are entering Year 3 of the grant-funded project, we are finally moving into the data collection phase. To date, a pilot epidemiologic and health survey has been completed in a few communities. Using feedback from community members and health promoters conducting the surveys, the survey was refined and modified to better suit local needs. Throughout the coming months the health promoters and
SaludCom Project coordinators will be gathering health and demographic information from members of all communities in El Páramo. We anticipate that the community and health center staff will be able to use the information gathered from the survey to better target health improvement efforts to the needs of the region.
An important part of securing community buy-in to the epidemiologic survey component of the SaludCom project was linking the data gathering phase to community visits by medical staff (Medical Brigades). Recently 7 communities held medical brigades, another 2 had visits from on-the-ground SaludCom staff to garner support from community members and leaders. These brigades have been a central component of the medical care provided by the SubCentro de Salud since its beginnings in 2001 and as popular service have helped build local support for the health survey. In addition to building community support for the SaludCom project, it has been noted that in the past 2 years since initiation of the project, there has been a renewed commitment and energy among the all-volunteer health promoters of the region. Of note, 80% of all health promoters attended at least ¾ of the health promoter training sessions in the past year and 65% have submitted their monthly data collection reports to the health center as requested.
In keeping with Minga’s mission to build local capacity, the SaludCom project has multiple capacity- building components embedded within it. Recently three accounting and administration workshops were held for community leaders in La Y de la Laguna. These workshops were well-received by the 11 participants and help improve local capacity in these key areas.
We are excited to see how the project expands in its final year. In addition to finally gathering and analyzing the survey data, our focus is on building sustainability by increasing trainings for health promoters and local leaders and finding ways to address the identified health needs of the many remote communities in El Páramo.