Please note this program is an unpaid global health education program. There is a program fee required to participate. This program fee pays for on-site services such a lodging, language classes (if relevant), 24/7 emergency support, coordination of rotations and/or placements, and on-site staff. CFHI is a nonprofit organization committed to fair-trade partnerships around the world. Please use the following code when applying for a program on the CFHI website “HandshakeCFHI” in order to have the application fee waived.
Experience Ecuador’s diverse cultures and geography, from Ecuador’s most populated, vibrant and modern tropical coastal city to a small city in the Amazon basin, considered a frontier town before entering the vast Amazon, the world’s largest tropical rainforest with unparalleled biodiversity, containing 1 of every 10 species on earth.
This program offers a unique opportunity to explore community-based medicine in a variety of settings, from the public hospital in a big urban setting to a small public primary healthcare clinic at the edge of the rainforest. Learn how communities in Guayaquil, Ecuador’s most vibrant and populated city, and Puyo, a small city on the Amazon rainforest, are addressing their most pressing health challenges including chronic, infectious, and vector-borne diseases, all while improving your Spanish and gaining insights into public health realities in Ecuador, indigenous cultures, and community medicine.
Begin your trip in Guayaquil, and spend two weeks attending Spanish language classes while taking part in clinical rotations in government primary healthcare clinics in an urban environment. This will allow you to strengthen your Spanish skills and become familiar with the main tenets and structure of the healthcare system in Ecuador.
Next, journey to the Amazon basin to learn about health issues facing rural and indigenous communities in the town of Puyo, Ecuador. In Puyo, geography, resources and culture affect healthcare access, as the area is home to 7 of Ecuador’s 13 indigenous groups. Join local healthcare practitioners and take part in clinical interventions, public health outreach and initiatives and jungle community visits.
In the city of Puyo, focus on rural and community medicine and gain exposure to infectious and tropical disease. Interact with the community through rotations in rural and suburban primary healthcare clinics. Go on home visits with local clinic staff who follow up on patients with diabetes, hypertension, tuberculosis, etc. Join brigades with public health personnel that are working to eradicate and prevent vector-borne diseases like malaria and dengue. Also learn about conservation and indigenous health issues by visiting local nonprofits working to preserve fragile ecosystems and rotate in rural primary healthcare clinics.
Unique to this program is the opportunity to live with an indigenous tribe for several days, providing an anthropological insight into indigenous communities. Hike with a local guide 6 hours into the Amazon jungle to reach a Shuar indigenous community along the banks of the Amazon River. Eat traditional meals with the Shuar and learn about medicinal plants.
To add to the cultural language immersion, participants live with local families in Guayaquil and Puyo. CFHI participants may also organize weekend trips from Guayaquil to various islands in the delta or visit some of the beach towns close to Guayaquil, such as “Playas. From Puyo, travel to Baños or Tena, home to numerous waterfalls and adventure sports like kayaking and zip lining.