Accessible, welcoming health care can be difficult to find. In Otavalo, Ecuador, where a large part of the population is Quechua indigenous people, health care offered by the government is limited and does not acknowledge or respect their traditional medicine.
In response to the economic and social barriers they faced at the government clinics, a group of Quechua leaders founded a clinic based on the practices of their people. Jambi Huasi (House of Health in Quechua), combines western medicine with local medical practices. Traditional doctors (yachac), midwives (mamahua) and chiropractors (jacudor) use herbs, amulets, and incantations to help cleanse a person’s body and spirit and drive away illness. The clinic also offers western medical services such as internal medicine, gynecology, pediatrics, minor surgery and dentistry.
Jambi Huasi does more than provide affordable, accessible health care for the Quechua community. It offers a place for people to receive modern and traditional medicine together, in an atmosphere where their beliefs and culture are respected. This has proven to be successful. Respect for people and their culture has resulted in an increase in confidence and self-advocacy, and also in an increase in indicators such as utilization of prenatal care, improved maternal and child health outcomes, and birth spacing.
Read more about Jambi Huasi and other similar programs in Health Actions for Women, and learn about another clinic founded by an indigenous community in the film Revolutionary Medicine. Jambi Huasi’s motto, Un pueblo sano es un pueblo libre (A healthy people is a free people), is shared by Hesperian. Help us contribute to the creation of more community spaces like this one, so that people everywhere have respectful, accommodating health care.