Ben Geier ‘18 – During my time in Peru, I found that two conversations really helped to shape my view of the current medical situation in the country. The first of these came while I was shadowing one of the local general physicians, Dr. Martín, while the second came while I spoke with the head of the hospital in Pillco Marca.
While I conversed with Dr. Martín, we came on the topic of how their health system is set up. He explained that in Peru there are three levels of hospitals. The level of the hospital dictates how much medical intervention said hospital can perform with its patients. For example, a level one can essentially only do physicals, minor tests, prescribe drugs and refer patients to bigger hospitals. What shocked me the most was his comment that people who need surgery (or some form of serious treatment) are almost entirely out of luck. In order to receive that level of treatment, he or she must purchase an overnight bus ticket to Lima (a trip which takes 10 hours).
The second conversation with the head of the hospital was something that helped to solidify my understanding of the healthcare system. The thing that stuck out most was when he discussed government funding. He mentioned how they receive little funding making it hard for them to treat the people of the surrounding community. In order to purchase medicine or other necessities they spend little to no resources on simple commodities like toilet paper, or even soap. The quote that got me was when he said something along the lines of, “sometimes we feel forgotten”.
It was incredibly eye opening to hear these things. However, it is not as bleak as it sounds. The people of the hospital make the best with what they are given by setting up programs with local universities in efforts to help educate the public on simple ways to identify easily avoidable health related problems. And along with that, the continued support from the Wabash College Global Health Initiative while small, is helping to provide some support — both medically and emotionally — to communities like this one