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History Of Curamericas


Summary

Curamericas Global, formerly Andean Rural Health Care, is a 501(c)3 organization that was founded in 1983 by Duke University and Johns Hopkins alumni Henry Perry III, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H and Alice Weldon, Ph.D. Curamericas Global was created with the goal of establishing primary health care programs that are responsive to the health needs of the community, improving child survival within the community, and building the national and local capacity of health service providers.

History

Curamericas Global’s founders, Dr. Perry and Dr. Weldon, traveled as Duke University undergraduates to Bolivia in 1969. Motivated by the overwhelming needs of the indigenous Aymara villagers living on the 13,000 foot-high Northern Altiplano, Henry and Alice began in 1981 a community health project together with the Bolivian Methodist Church, Duke University, and the Bolivian Ministry of Health. In 1983, Dr. Perry founded a non-profit organization known as Andean Rural Health Care (ARHC) to continue the health project for the Aymara people and to expand into other parts of Bolivia.

Starting in the 1990s, our programs stretched out into Mexico, Haiti and Guatemala; resulting in a name change to Curamericas. With our programs spreading beyond the Americas in the 2000s, we changed our name to Curamericas Global, Inc. to reflect our worldwide reach. In 2008, Curamericas Global began working in Liberia with our Nehnwaa Child Survival Project, implemented in partnership with Ganta United Methodist Hospital. Broadening our program work into HIV programming, we started our Sante Famn project in Haiti, partnering with the Haitian NGO Management and Resources for Community Health (MARCH) in 2009.

Although our founders encountered many difficulties starting Andean Rural Health Care, they soon gained recognition for the quality of ARHC’s work and the innovative nature of its programs. Collaborating with Dr. John Wyon, a Harvard Professor, Dr. Perry developed a revolutionary new approach to working with communities to improve their health: the Census-Based Impact-Oriented methodology (CBIO). This CBIO methodology focused on building a partnership with communities, completing a census of all households, and regularly visiting every household.

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Founder, Henry Perry with doctors at the project in Bolivia circa 1984

Using CBIO for our projects, we could determine the major health problems in the community and ensure that everyone, especially those most in need, received essential health services and education. By tracking all the births and deaths that occurred, CBIO allowed us to measure mortality rates and to monitor changes of these rates. This ability to demonstrate the measurable impact of our work is a unique and powerful aspect of our CBIO methodology. As documented in peer-reviewed scientific journals, Andean Rural Health Care achieved an over 60% reduction in the deaths of children during their first five years of life. Through our increased experience with our CBIO approach, we recognize its continuing value and consider CBIO to be the core element of our work.

In addition to CBIO, we create partnerships with local communities and help them develop strong indigenous health organizations to foster the continuity of these programs. In Bolivia, we worked with Mr. Nat Robison and Dr. Dardo Chavez to establish the Consejo de Salud Rural Andino (CSRA) as a separate community health organization. While implementing CBIO in the isolated Guatemalan villages inhabited by indigenous Mayan people, Dr. Mario Valdez, our project director and Guatemalan physician, founded Curamericas Guatemala as an NGO (non-governmental organization) in the Department of Huehuetenango. Both of these organizations are prime examples of Curamericas’ dedication to build local capacity and create sustainable programs and institutions.

From the beginning, we have received not only financial support from many churches, individuals and organizations; but also the hands-on support from volunteers who work with the local villagers on health-related projects and provid direct curative care in the communities. Our international volunteer program, which sends individual volunteers and volunteer work teams to our projects, continues to be a key aspect of Curamericas Global. Our volunteers include adults and youth, working persons and students, laypersons and health professionals. Over the years, several thousand people in the United States and our project countries have had their lives positively changed by these direct cultural and professional exchanges. Volunteer teams have been around the world to our projects in Bolivia, Guatemala, Liberia, and Haiti.

In the future, we envision many more partnerships with communities around the globe to help them make measurable and sustainable improvements in their health and well-being.


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