Our solutions are tailored to the communities we serve
For more than a decade, PATH has worked to meet the needs of diverse communities in Latin America and the Caribbean. In many areas of this region, infrastructure is fairly reliable. Urban areas have ready access to health services and supplies, and one important indicator of health—knowledge of contraception—is nearly 100 percent. But approximately ten percent of the world’s developing-country population live in Latin America and the Caribbean—and pockets of extreme poverty do exist.
In 2003, we established an office in Managua, Nicaragua—a base for our work in Latin America. We also have an office in Lima, Peru.
Cervical cancer prevention
In rural areas throughout the region, we have nurtured emerging health systems to meet people’s basic needs. For example, 80 percent of the world’s deaths from cervical cancer occur in developing countries. In villages deep in the Peruvian rainforest, we worked with the Ministry of Health and the Pan American Health Organization to test new methods of cervical cancer screening. If screening showed a need, we provided same-day treatment to prevent the disease from claiming women in the prime of their lives.
We are also helping prevent cervical cancer by preparing the way for the new HPV vaccines, providing decision-makers with the information they need to decide whether and how to add the vaccines to their health programs. We're working closely with government partners on a demonstration project in Peru.
Meeting basic needs
Another leading health problem in low-resource settings is malnutrition, which can lead to maternal death during child birth, as well as birth defects and poor mental and physical development in children. Our Ultra Rice® technology adds nutrients to the rice-based diets of Colombian school children and soon, we hope, to nutrient-deficient populations in Brazil.
Helping youth thrive
Where infrastructure is in place, PATH focuses on tapping into communities’ inherent strength and their established networks. Doing this enables us to help youth thrive. In an urban district of Managua, Nicaragua, where drug use and violence are common, we helped young girls discover the knowledge and confidence needed to navigate the risky waters of adolescence. We also worked with teachers and mothers to help them support girls on this journey.
In another effort to help youth, we trained pharmacists and behind-the-counter staff to provide up-to-date, nonjudgmental services. Pharmacies can be convenient, affordable, and anonymous first stops for reproductive health information and supplies. Without a trusted source like this one, youth are vulnerable to unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.
Information and technology
PATH furnishes policymakers and health workers with timely and authoritative information on important health topics. Our quarterly publication Outlook is translated to Spanish—and sometimes Portuguese—and distributed to health care providers in the region. Our RHO Cervical Cancer website also has resources available in Spanish. These publications are just two of many that we make available to help our public health colleagues keep abreast of current trends and make informed, evidence-based decisions.
Through technology development, we work to expand women’s options for contraception and protection. Women in the Dominican Republic, through fittings and testing, have helped us design a new woman’s condom that, when it comes to market, will be comfortable, affordable, and in their control.
A private-sector partner in Argentina produces and sells the PATH-developed HIV dipstick tests for use in surveillance programs, laboratories, and blood banks.
Collaboration is a cornerstone
In Latin America, as elsewhere, collaboration is a cornerstone of our success. We partnered with the Pan American Health Organization to produce Violence Against Women: The Health Sector Responds, a practical tool for international health programmers working to end abuse of women. Building on this work, we are now serving as the technical secretariat for the Latin American Consortium on Gender-Based Violence and Health. Member organizations are international and local groups that want to help the health sector better respond to domestic and gender-based violence.
Wherever practical we conduct activities with and through existing channels: pharmacies, midwives, women’s groups, schools, ministries of health, commercial manufacturers, and local nongovernmental organizations. We bring ideas, resources, and more than 25 years of experience in international public health. Our partners in the region contribute their own experience, knowledge, and community connections to ensure the relevance of our work and to extend its reach.