Good health for children in the north of Argentina

Tecpetrol rolled out a preventive medical campaign for children aged between 4 and 14 at Campo Durán and El Algarrobal, Salta. Find out more about the initiative below.

Based at the Aguaragüe field, Luciana Fernández, a Core Analyst, has been working with Andrea Fernández, HRBP Manager, to implement the Healthy Child Project, an initiative set up by Andrea and Dr. Marcelo Casanueva, the medical auditor at the operation, who also treated patients and coordinated the work undertaken by the specialists.

The project was all about prevention and focused on providing information to children aged between 4 and 14, working with local schools in Campo Durán and El Algarrobal. Its main goal? To give children from a sector of the population with difficulties in accessing healthcare the opportunity to be seen by general practitioners, ophthalmologists and dentists.

For a few days, schools became medical Campo Durán and El Algarrobal, Salta, Argentina.

Due to the sheer numbers of patients, the program was extended, running from Monday, August 22 to Thursday, August 25, with the team spending three days in Campo Durán and one in El Algarrobal. Luciana explains how this all came about: “First, we set up the legal framework, which included authorizations signed by the parents of each child. Coordination with school heads was vital as we needed the physical space to see people, and we took advantage of school facilities to solve the issue of proximity.”

With schools and classrooms at the ready, the first day of consultations in Campo Durán was for the 4-9 year-olds. On Tuesday, it was the turn of those aged between 9 and 14, and Wednesday was reserved for those unable to attend the previous days. At El Algarrobal, the team managed to cover the entire population in one day.

The area had been keen to hold a health campaign for some time, but one of the sticking points was the kind of institutional framework required. Andrea explains that, “there was no doubt about it, as the location for the activity had to be a school, and this is vital to building a lasting, two-way relationship with the community." They started thinking about the campaign at the beginning of the year, and Children's Day in August seemed the ideal date for the launch.

The results were excellent: in Campo Durán, all of the 169 children who’d applied to be seen showed up, in addition to their families. In El Algarrobal, over half were treated. “We were really well received in both locations, people were extremely grateful. We were able to overcome communication barriers and focus on talking about the children and their care,” enthuses Luciana.

The treatment provided was multidisciplinary and focused on prevention. The general practitioner reviewed patients, discussed their diets, and took a look at some of the studies brought by the parents to the consultation. The ophthalmologist prescribed several pairs of glasses to be donated by Tecpetrol, while the dentist focused on prevention, not only giving children a toothbrush and toothpaste, but also teaching them how to brush properly. In some instances, the cases were more complex than the visit had time for, so the professionals took the decision to help the families coordinate further treatment.

What next? According to Andrea, “the idea is to deepen these initiatives. Our area is responsible for social management within the framework of community relations: this includes issues related to health, education and development. At the moment, we’re developing a gynecology project, and making progress in our conversations with the provincial authorities to tackle infrastructure issues.” Luciana concludes that, “for many children, it was the first time that they’d received dental and eye care. It’s a privilege for us to know that we can help. And, although sometimes there are obstacles, when you get to the end of the day and see these happy children and their mothers, there are no words to describe the feeling of satisfaction about being part of the Tecpetrol CORE team."

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