Access to health in the heart of the Ecuadorian Amazon

Where there’s a need, there’s a duty to respond. This is an account of the assistance that the company has been providing in Pacayacu and Dureno, two of the communities where it operates.

As of April 26, there are fifty-six brand new pieces of medical equipment in the A-type health clinics in the Pacayacu and Dureno parishes, which lie in the Lago Agrio canton in the northeastern province of Sucumbios, in Ecuador.

What are A-type health clinics? These establishments are to be found in both urban and rural sectors, and are designed to serve a population of up to ten thousand inhabitants. They treat people at an outpatient level, offering family medicine, nursing, general dentistry and obstetrics as well as treating symptoms related to COVID-19. But, as Darwin Vega, Tecpetrol’s coordinator of Community Relations in Ecuador, points out, “The resources assigned to these health clinics are not nearly enough to handle the current health emergency, let alone routine consultations.” 

Bring health closer to people. This was the company’s mission, as it decided to expand its corporate acquisition initiatives for COVID-19, by donating instruments and equipment such as blood pressure monitors, electrocardiographs, defibrillators, oximeters, audible blood glucose meters, among others, reaching some fifty-six items in total, which were split between the two health clinics.

Faces glowing with pride:Darwin Vega and the staff from the Dureno health clinic on the occasion of the donation.

“These items were all desperately needed and in some cases urgently. The clinics lie in parishes—which is what small towns in Ecuador are called—that are quite isolated, as the main hospital is 45 minutes away. Try to imagine how emergencies are handled with those kinds of delays. Or someone in an extreme amount of pain who has to be moved. It was a very difficult situation, and they needed a lot of support,” explains Darwin.

The idea sprang from necessity. In this case, the initial step was taken by the community doctor working at Petroecuador, the state oil company, who reports to its Community Relations department. “He pointed out these needs whenever we met on site or through video calls, and so we went together to talk to the administrators of the health clinics. At both Pacayacu and Dureno, they told us that they were lacking materials and equipment. For example, they couldn’t do ultrasounds. And if someone arrived with more serious injuries, they couldn’t do CPR because they didn’t have a defibrillator.” So the first step was taken, which was to draw up a list of needs.

A positive impact. Darwin is extremely proud of what the company has achieved in Pacayacu and Dureno. “We’ve pioneered education initiatives, awarded scholarships to students at technical institutes and provided tuition to help them pursue their technical careers. However, this kind of action has quite a different impact as it affects a much broader segment of the population. The effect of this sort of support is very widespread because everyone goes to these health clinics for their healthcare. People who can’t make it to the hospital, for example. When we delivered the equipment and instruments, it was a very rewarding moment. The doctors, the community and the local authorities were every bit as excited as we were. And there’s still a long way to go. We are deeply committed to this path and intend to follow it as far as we can.”

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