One Woman's Work to Build a Healthy Community in Peru

One Woman's Work to Build a Healthy Community in Peru

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

"Leading a community to become healthy is not just a male thing," says Águida Curo Vican, president of the Local Development Committee of Tutumbaru in Peru’s Ayacucho region. Águida -- along with other members of the Local Development Committee -- is working for better health and development within her community.

Águida’s efforts to improve her community’s health began in 2005 when she was trained in community leadership and management of health by the Healthy Communities and Municipalities project, funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID).

Since then, she has regularly visited her neighbors to teach proper health care practices that help children grow healthy, strong and intelligent. Águida also promotes regular hand washing, the consumption of boiled or chlorinated water, and the importance of giving birth at a health facility, among other critical and necessary lessons for her community.

In recognition of her dedication to improving the health of her community, Águida was elected president of the Tutumbaru Local Development Committee in February 2009, a role in the community traditionally held by men. With her typical strength and courage, she assumed the role with the goal of transforming her community’s health.

Águida's work leads to a healthier community, incredible results

In addition to leading the meetings of the community board, Águida coordinates health issues with local institutions and government officials. She continues to promote healthy behaviors that contribute to improving the health of the population, mainly women and children, with incredible results:

  • In December 2007, only 22 percent of children ages 6 to 23 months in Tutumbaru received adequate food and consumed safe water. As of August 2010, that number jumped to 100 percent: all children in that age range had access to adequate food and safe water.
  • The number of children under age two who possessed a birth certificate increased from 43 percent to 93 percent from December 2007 to August 2010. Registering children is a key mechanism to tracking their needs and the health care services they are provided.
  • Knowledge among women of at least one family planning method increased from 80 percent in December 2007 to 100 percent in July 2010.

Águida does not expect a reward or incentive for her efforts. Instead she says that the greatest and most satisfying recognition she could have is to know that her community is getting better every day and that the 89 families living there have a better quality of life today than they did a few years ago.

Without a doubt, Águida is a leader, and a clear example of thousands of rural women like her who are contributing to a better world for everyone.

Eliana López is a Behavior Change Communications Specialist and William Chávez is a Behavior Change Communications Promoter.  Both work with the Healthy Communities and Municipalities II project in Peru.