Promotoras attend their 11th training with Sacred Valley Health

Group Picture

This month’s training – our promotoras’ (community health workers’) 11th – was a repaso (review) of the previous three trainings. The themes reviewed in this capacitacion were Cuidado de Los Gestantes (Care of the Pregnant Woman), Medicinas Naturales (Natural Medicines), and Dolor de La Espalda (Back Pain). Yet again, the promotoras performed impressively; using their notes, they responded thoughtfully and intelligently to the problems we presented to them.

Each group of promotoras encountered a set of health scenarios, some treatable with natural medicines, others requiring referrals to the government clinic, and a few that represented normal aspects of prenatal or neonatal development. The promotoras applied what they had learned in the previous three trainings, and treated their ‘patients’ with the courteous and sensitive bedside manner that they themselves had identified as important.

At our first station, Community Coordinator Lucy acted the part of a mother who had given birth just one week earlier. She explained her symptoms – a low-grade fever and hard and tender breasts – to Patacancha promotoras Victoria and Gabriel. Did she need a referral to the clinic or were her symptoms normal and treatable at home? After conferring, Victoria and Gabriel responded accurately that a low-grade fever often accompanies milk let-down, and that the best treatment for hard and tender breasts is to nurse. The mother could go home unconcerned. However, they added that if the mother experienced a persistent fever accompanied by a strong headache and changes in vision, she should go to the clinic.

Patient Harriet presents her symptoms to Victoria and Gabriel.
Patient Harriet presents her symptoms to Victoria and Gabriel.

At our second station, Community Coordinator Elly acted as if she was suffering extreme lower back pain from weeks of work during the maiz (corn) harvest. There was one week left of the harvest: What did she risk by pushing through and did the promotoras know any ways to alleviate the pain? Promotoras Santusa and Teresa explained how the spine works and gave Elly three exercises to strengthen her back muscles. The majority of the population we serve works in agriculture or weaving and back pain is a common problem. The stretches and strengthening exercises that we teach the promotoras, and that the promotoras then teach community members, can significantly alleviate suffering.

Our third and final station focused on the medicinas naturales (natural medicines), material taught by visiting lecturer Oscar from the Ollantaytambo Municipality. Below, Matilde and Escolastica review the preparation of a pomada (pomade), used to treat Stewart’s bruised muscle. Afterwards, they prepared a jarabe (used to treat cough), a tintura (used to treat arthritis), and a mate (used to treat stomach pain). All natural treatments involve local herbs that are accessible to the promotoras in their home villages.

Patient Stewart treated by promotoras Escholastica and Matilde.
Patient Stewart treated by promotoras Escholastica and Matilde.


SVH volunteers Erin and Harriet, who have been with us all summer, are now getting ready to head back to the U.S. Things they will miss most include spending the morning of training day drinking chocolatada outside the health post with the promotoras, the beautiful walk down from Patacancha to Ollantaytambo, and the five puppies that currently reside in the SVH office. We thank Erin and Harriet for their hard work and many contributions!

Community Coordinator Harriet receives a goodbye card.
Harriet receives a goodbye card as SVH nurse Leticia (at left) says some words.
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