Peru: Our Impact

 {Photo credit: MSH}Graciela presents on the experience of her community in the city of Pucallpa.Photo credit: MSH

In rural Peru, persistent machismo—male chauvinism—often limits leadership opportunities for women. But in Monte de los Olivos, a poor rural community in Irazola District in the region of Ucayali, those now driving community development are female.

  The current generation of 1.8 billion adolescents—a quarter of the world's population—is the largest in history. MSH invests in the health of youth and engages them as leaders capable of generating dynamic ideas, creating new solutions, and mobilizing resources for sustainable health systems in their communities.

 {Photo credit: Benjamín Balarezo/MSH}Community leaders and authorities participate in first module of program for Moral Leadership and Community Management.Photo credit: Benjamín Balarezo/MSH

For many communities in Peru, the cultivation of illegal coca for drug trafficking, far from bringing prosperity, has only brought them fear and instability, an eroding community, and caused serious health problems primarily affecting women and children. This dark landscape is now changing for 41 rural communities in the Huanuco and Ucayali regions, who, in 2012 signed an agreement with the Peruvian government to stop growing coca.

 {Photo credit: MSH} Teens and girls from the community of Shambillo, in Padre Abad District, participate in a workshop on leadership, goal setting, and self esteem.Photo credit: MSH

In the rural Padre Abad district of Peru’s Ucayali region, located in the Amazon Rainforest, teenage girls are nearly twice as likely to have an early pregnancy between ages 15 and 19 than their peers across the country.  

Águida Curo Vican, at right, visiting a new community member to share information on healthy practices. {Photo credit: MSH}Photo credit: MSH

Peru’s maternal mortality rate remains among the highest in the Americas. Access to health care workers who speak indigenous languages such as Quechua is almost nonexistent. Chronic child malnutrition affects close to half of children under five years of age. And men pay little attention to areas considered "women's issues," such as maternal, child, and reproductive health. Fortunately, all of this is changing in the rural Peruvian community of Tutumbaru, thanks to Águida Vicaña Curo and the Local Development Committee (LDC).

President Águida Curo Vicaña, holding the orange HCM Toolkit, stands with women members of the Local Development Committee of Tutumbaru. {Photo credit: MSH.}Photo credit: MSH.

In rural Peru, women are rarely in official positions of power. In fact, certain public health issues – family planning, maternal health and child health -- are considered "women's issues." The Peru Healthy Communities and Municipalities II (HCM II) project, funded by USAID and led by Management Sciences for Health, is trying to shift these patterns in 500 rural Peruvian communities.The people of Tutumbaru, one Amazonian community in central Peru where narcotrafficking is common, are already experiencing changes.

Peru Personal de salud durante entrevista. {Photo credit: MSH.}Photo credit: MSH.

In Peru, women of reproductive age represent a full quarter of the population -- which means there are about 6.75 million women with potential family planning needs.  In the region of San Martín, 29.4 percent of women do not use any method of family planning; in the regions of Ayacucho and Ucayali, the percentage increases to 30.3 percent and 33.1 percent respectively.