Sustainability is obviously a priority when trying to improve global health, and Timmy exemplifies this by sending a team to help the communities every two months. The Timmy team reviews a patient’s history, learns of the patient’s current health status, and treats the patient with a sufficient amount of vitamins and/or medicine for the next two months, until the following brigade. This is conducive to creating credible, sustained rapports with the people, and gives them responsibility over their health to attend future brigades. What I wanted to learn, though, was what the people did in between those two months…

We had the opportunity to ask a man of the Mushuk Allpa community questions about healthcare beliefs in the community. I asked what the people did in the two months that Timmy was not present. He told me that there were three options:
  1. The community would prioritize which family, or individuals, were in most need to visit the Subcentro, a community health center with a native doctor. The doctor can only see about 16 people, or 3 families, in one day, and the people wait in line all day in hopes of being one of the few patients. The Subcentro may also be as far as 1-2 hours away from people’s homes.
  2. The people can visit with the medicine man of the community, who is very well respected and knowledgeable about traditional, or indigenous, medicine such as plants, exercises, and spiritual rituals.
  3. They will wait it out for the Timmy team.

What I was most pleased to learn was that the indigenous people of Ecuador are very open to a mixture of traditional and western medicine. The people do not appear stubborn towards western medicine, but rather, seem to embrace it and are enthusiastic about its benefits. I think that believing in traditional medicine gives the people a sense of power over their health, gives them something to believe in, and allows them to stay true to their traditional ways of doing things. I believe that “meeting in the middle” with the people, or better yet, understanding and accepting their traditional, cultural ways of dealing with health is a beneficial and sincere way to make steps in improving healthcare. We cannot just step in and overwhelm the people with all western ideas and medicine, but rather we need to continue to be open and work together. In the mean time, this tactic seems to be working quite well!