212968 Doctors for Global Health: Promoting the Right to Health by Practicing Accompaniment and Liberation Medicine in Rural El Salvador

Tuesday, November 10, 2009: 2:30 PM

Jennifer Kasper, MD, MPH , Dept of Pediatrics, MassGeneral Hospital for Children, Boston, MA
Doctors for Global Health (DGH) is all-volunteer, non-denominational US-based NGO created in 1995 with mission to “improve health and foster other human rights with those most in need by accompanying communities, while educating and inspiring others to action.” DGH practices liberation medicine, “conscious and conscientious use of health to promote human dignity and social justice.” DGH's work is centered on right to development, human dignity and equity.

We will present case study of DGH's partnership with communities of Estancia, El Salvador. These indigenous communities were heavily devastated by 12-year civil conflict (1980-1992); their inhabitants had been tortured, killed, or lived as refugees in Honduras, They invited DGH to create health and human rights program. DGH's inclusive project, “Building Health Where the Peace is New”, encompassed participation by multiple actors (ministry of health, red cross, other NGOs, health promoters, community leaders); utilization of community-oriented primary care principles (e.g. cluster communities); and participatory investigation (each community health worker in conjunction with his/her community members determined most urgent health/public health issues and designed and implemented projects with DGH's assistance to solve these).

Highlights of the program include the following: construction of two-lane vehicular bridge, two clinics (one with physical therapy, dental, and eyeglass-making equipment), and five centers for integrated child development; women's rights program (included breast and cervical cancer screening and treatment); mental health program; and local capacity-building that included formation of Salvadoran, campesino-run NGO Asociación Campesina para o Desarrollo Humano (Peasant Association for Human Development, CDH).

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe how Doctors for Global Health applies human rights principles, especially the right to development and non-discrimination, to its overseas work. 2. Describe concepts of accompaniment and liberation medicine 3. Describe the importance of accompaniment when working with marginalized communities in the US and abroad.

Keywords: Public Health, Human Rights

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: clinician
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.