Health care in Putumayo
The Quina Care Foundation was established at the beginning of 2017 by two Dutch medical doctors specialized in international health and tropical medicine. It aims to provide good medical health care in the rural Amazon rainforest of South America, where – up until this day – accessible and good medical health care is limited.
"The people from the Amazon have the right to good health care as well.”
Ecuador is one of the countries in the Amazon rainforest that is in need of help. In the north east, bordering Colombia, lies the district of Putumayo. It is a huge area that covers both Ecuador and Colombia. Compared to other areas in the Ecuadorian Amazon rainforest, the number and serious nature of problems is relatively high in Putumayo. Sixty percent of the people live beneath the poverty threshold. Due to a shortage of facilities and the high number of diseases, the living conditions are poor. In addition, the continuous drug related violence in Colombia causes an unstable and insecure situation on both sides of the border, which has a negative effect on the population.
For the inhabitants of Putumayo, Puerto el Carmen is the only city they can rely on. But this city has only access to one medical post which is minimally staffed and the possibilities are limited. The closest hospital is two hundred kilometers away. To reach Puerto el Carmen, many people have already travelled for hours by foot or canoe. For illnesses and emergencies it’s essential that they can find continuous and adequate 24-hour care in Puerto el Carmen.
By establishing a basic hospital, Quina Care aims to provide adequate medical health care to the people of Putumayo. This will be done by renovating an old boarding school into a hospital where complete primary care and acute secondary care – emergency surgery included – will be possible. Good medical health care that is accessible at all times for everyone. In doing so, the intention is to work with as many local staff as possible. Besides this, it is of great importance that the care delivered by Quina Care is an addition to already existing medical health care, instead of competing with it.
On site, the project is led by two Dutch medical doctors specialized in tropical medicine, Jacob and Carolien van der Ende, also the founders of Quina Care. Because they’ve been working several years in development countries, they are well-prepared to work under similar circumstances and they have experience with organizing good medical health care in rural areas. Meanwhile they have been working in a hospital in the Amazon rainforest of Ecuador, which allowed them a useful insight into the health care system, the culture, and perception of disease of the local population. Once the hospital is up and running, next to leading the project they will be employed as doctors.
To ensure the continuity of high quality care, the hospital has to operate independent of the Ecuadorian government – and thus the unstable financial situation of the country. For this reason, patients will be asked to make a contribution for the provided care. This fee will by far not be full cost recovery but will help to realize that good medical health care has a price. Donations to the Quina Care Foundation will constitute the remainder of the costs. As long as the circumstances in Putumayo remain poor and unstable, additional good medical health care from the Quina Care Foundation will continue to be necessary.
April 2019 saw phase one of the renovations commence and the expectation is that the hospital can open its doors at the end of 2019. At the start, there will be an outpatient clinic and an emergency room as well as the availability of diagnostics in terms of laboratory testing and radiology. In addition there will be an extensive focus on preventative health care. In due time, the hospital will be extended with an inpatient ward, delivery room and surgery room.