Healthcare in Peru

Greetings from Lima, Peru! We’ve been here for a little over a month now and decided to look back on our journey so far.

Thanks to Philosophy Professor Jorge Secada, a limeño who splits his time between teaching at UVA in Charlottesville and living in Peru, we got accustomed to Lima pretty quickly. We’ve been staying in the same hostel in Miraflores, very close to Parque Kennedy, since the beginning of our trip. and have become well acquainted with all of the locals who work here — they’ve patiently helped with our Spanish and are always ready for a cheerful conversation despite the language barrier. Thrisha and I have also been lucky enough to meet some great travelers from all over the world at the hostel, which has made our experience that much more colorful.

Prof. Secada has also shown us around Lima, taking us to the San Isidro and Miraflores districts where he grew up. From him, we’ve learned more about the recent history and politics in Lima, and how they affect the culture and the environment of healthcare in Peru. We’ve also been fortunate to meet other limeños through Prof. Secada, who introduced us to his godchildren’s family and some faculty who work at the Universidad Peruana de Ciencias Aplicadas (Peruvian University of Applied Sciences).

Our research initially started off slowly. After making contact with the NGO we are working with, we had to figure out how to navigate the IRB process in Peru. While challenging at first, we’ve worked extensively with the Ethics Committee at la Universidad de San Martin de Porres on our IRB application. The doctors and administrators of the committee have been a tremendous help in improving our project. Their valuable insight into the healthcare system, as well as the general population and demographics of Lima has been instrumental in refining our interview and focus group questions. It was incredibly valuable to have seasoned and native-Spanish speaking doctors and researchers patiently working with us through the process — without their help, we may not have been able to get the IRB approved as soon as we did.

Last, but certainly not least, we’ve worked with our wonderful community partners at Liga Contra el Cáncer — Catya Lopez and Yenny Bellido have been our primary contacts this summer. Both are officially obstetras — a profession most similar to a midwife in the States — but also work in the Research/Investigation department of Liga. They’ve been supportive throughout the entire process, even though their time has been limited due to the NGO status of Liga. So far, we’ve talked with patients, doctors, and obstetras, and we look forward to talking with community healthcare workers this afternoon. Hasta luego!

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Natalie and I are standing with our community partners (Left: Yenny Bellidos and Right: Catya Lopez) and Dr. Raúl Velarde, who is the Medical Director of Liga Contra el Cancer.

– Natalie & Thrisha

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