Last week, our first group of community health workers – the ones who started training with us in September 2012 – built their knowledge of reproductive anatomy and health. As you may have read in our previous posts, this topic is not covered at all in the Peruvian public education system, and as a result there are widespread misunderstandings about reproduction in the isolated rural areas that we serve.
The community health workers (promotoras) first studied this topic several months ago with previous Sacred Valley Health volunteer and medical student Erica Gadzik. They all showed enthusiasm about revisiting the material and adding even more information to their initial foundation.
Our wonderful nurse Leticia Huanca taught and was assisted by Community Coordinator (and Registered Nurse) Brooke Bachelor and Volunteer Coordinator Lucy Paine. We began the lesson by discussing why learning about reproductive health was important: not only because the more we know about our bodies, the better we can care for them, but also because understanding how pregnancy occurs can reduce levels of pregnancy among girls in their early teens. Understanding how STIs spread can empower women to take steps to protect themselves.
We reviewed the basic physical parts of the male and female reproductive systems. Promotoras explained the functions of the various parts and then pointed them out on a diagram. Using the diagrams, Leticia and Brooke educated on the biological aspects of conception and growth of a fetus while Lucy discussed ways to encourage physical and mental health of the pregnant woman.
After an invigorating stretch break that involved review of the previous training on nutrition, the promotoras all broke into individual groups with staffers to learn about natural contraception and the hormonal birth control methods available at the nearest government posta (health clinic). Each promotora picked a method to present to the group, all of whom were rapt with attention. As a final important but also giggle-inducing exercise, Lucy, Leticia and Intern Daniel Alvarez demonstrated proper condom use with carrots as props. Each promotora then practiced putting a condom on a carrot. The next training on reproductive health will include the prevention of sexually transmitted and urinary tract infections and the importance of the Papanicolau exam, so stay tuned!
— Written by Lucy Paine