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The Dartmouth
April 18, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Geisel School partners with Peruvian leaders

The pilot program designed by Peruvian native Jaime Bayona, the director of global health programs and practice at the Dartmouth Center for Health Care Delivery Science and a professor of community and family medicine at Geisel enabled five undergraduates and three medical students to visit non-governmental organizations, clinics and government organizations throughout Peru during July and the first week in August, according to Geisel student Anna Huh.

Bayona is the co-founder and former director of Socios En Salud, the Peruvian branch of Partners In Health. Bayona has focused much of his professional career on building community health care programs, focusing specifically on care networks for multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis in Carabayllo, Peru.

"Our overall agenda included an academic partnership with the Universidad del Pacifico in Lima, work in the mountains of Cuzco, jungle of La Merced and coast of Trujillo," Global Health Program Officer Jennifer Murray said. "The coursework and site visits, documentation and implementation plans will include work with the Peruvian Ministry of Health, non-governmental organizations, students and communities to enhance health care delivery in each setting."

Murray said that the partnership began with a charge from former College President Jim Yong Kim to strengthen curricular experiences in global health delivery at the College. Representatives from the Center then set out to build a pilot program in global health delivery to explore ideas for a new and innovative curricular global health field experience, she said.

"The pilot aimed to merge learning with practice and implementation learning from the best doers, thinkers and communicators in health care in Peru, combined with the opportunity to implement initiatives for health equity with the guidance of Dartmouth faculty and staff," Murray said.

Huh said her favorite experience on the program was visiting Carabayllo, a town in which women run clinics called "botiquines" in their own homes and are able to provide medical services by calling on doctors to facilitate their work.

"We were able to go on home visits with some of the doctors, and there was one woman who had been diagnosed with kidney stones, but she didn't know what her diagnosis was," Huh said. "We were able to look at her medical records and explain what that was, the reasons why she was having pain, and let her know she was going to be OK. It was a huge experience for students to see a patient with our very own eyes and have an impact on her life."

The group spent the first two weeks attending lectures by government officials, doctors and other Peruvian nationals to learn about the economic, political and medical issues affecting Peru today, Bayona said. Among Peruvian leaders who met with the group were Walter Humberto Castillo Martell, superintendent of Peru's National Health Insurance agency; Maria Paola Lucia Llosa Isenrich, dean of the Alberto Hurtado School of Medicine at the Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia in Lima; and Tatiana Vidaurre, director of Peru's National Cancer Institute, according to a Geisel School press release.

"Once we had that info, we went into the field and were in the coast, the jungle, the mountains, the outskirts of Lima," he said. "We actually had the opportunity to see how it was for a Peruvian family to get access to health care in different settings."

As part of the visit, students worked with members of the Arenal Alto-Villa Maria del Triunfo community where almost 80 percent of residents live in poverty and an organization called Visionarios to build a small library. The team has established the Geisel Global Health Fund Peru to collect monetary support for the library and efforts to expand educational opportunities in Peru.

In addition to site visits, program participants had the opportunity to take classes at a local university and consider potential future programs, according to Katherine Pujol '13, who took part in the summer pilot. The future result could take the form of a global health foreign study program for undergraduate students, an initiative for engineering students or an entirely different form following further discussion, Pujol said.

The goals of the partnership include promoting collaborative decision-making, community health and disaster preparedness and developing training opportunities for Geisel School students on-site in Peru, according to the release.

Bayona said he believes the partnership will have a positive impact on both Peruvians and Dartmouth students.

"I think that what Dartmouth has been able to do in terms of global health or health disparities has been tremendously important for the health system in Peru and Peruvian families that we will and did work with," Bayona said. "With the proper technical efficiency coming from staff and faculty this will be a good opportunity to make a difference in Peruvian health."

Huh said she felt the program contributed to the growth of the participating students both personally and academically by exposing them to a different environment, encouraging them to work with impoverished populations and providing insight into a world without modern technology and the comforts to which U.S. students are accustomed.

"I think for students to have time out of the country to experience these things through their own eyes and hands is incredibly different from reading about them," she said. "It's just a very organic experience that can't be replaced with any other curriculum here in the states."

The partnership will allow Dartmouth to not only share and implement ideas for health care delivery with health experts in Peru, but also provide students with an opportunity to learn from the best practices in Peru that can inform health care reform in the United States, Murray said.

"We hope many Dartmouth students undergraduates, medical students and all other graduate students can be involved in the Peru partnership, in whichever area of global health they are most passionate about," Murray said. "We encourage students from all backgrounds to explore opportunities with us, with Geisel, [the] Dickey [Center] and other offices involved."

In addition to Huh and Pujol, second-year Geisel School student Sadie Marden, fourth-year Geisel School student Karl Dietrich, Anneliesse Duncan '13, Ricardo Vera Monroy '12, Stephanie Takeuchi '12 and Kat Sanders '12 participated in the summer program.