A day in the life of Oscar Cordon

IAS member and Chief of Party at Chemonics International in Peru

Despite the rapid and sustained economic growth that Peru has experienced during the last ten years, some regions are still experiencing an increase in the number of HIV/AIDS cases. Chemonics International, the organization I work for, addresses these cases by running projects in four provinces of the country where the epidemic is at its worst.

One of our projects is in the Amazonian jungle of the country, which covers two thirds of its geographic extension. More than 300,000 people, divided by twenty different ethnic groups and a variety of languages, live in this region in dispersed and undeserved communities.

A new economic development which emerged between Brazil and Peru has opened new roads and means of transportation. However this movement has also resulted in the mobilization and encounters between native villages and workers in search of jobs in the fields of construction, extraction of oil, gas, timber, etc…

A new colonization, prompted by private companies, has also surfaced and has dispersed people from their native communities forcing them to travel around and exchange goods such as fruits and yucca for other needed items like matches, kerosene and batteries.

These economic activities trigger social issues such as casual non-protected sexual encounters that expose these populations to different diseases like hepatitis, sexual transmitted infections and, in some cases, HIV/AIDS.

My team of more than 15 professionals provides technical assistance in different areas including tuberculosis, maternal and child health and reproductive health. The team has frequent contact with counterparts on both regional and municipal levels. There is frequent interaction with workers of the Ministry of Health of Peru and with local NGOs and municipality representatives. These individuals are on the front line, assisting patients and people underserved in remote geographic regions, particularly in the native communities, which are the most dispersed and isolated in the jungle.

I supervise their technical and managerial activities making sure that the local capacity of health workers is strengthened through the use of different managerial methodologies that will further allow them to rapidly identify meager performances. The approach includes a strong contact between civil society, communities and healthcare facility representatives. The representatives from the civil society are represented by a variety of organizations: indigenous communities, gay, lesbian and transgender community, sex workers, and health and education sectors among others.

One of our projects is located in the District of Datem of Maranon, in the Amazonian region of Loreto North of Peru.

This district is reachable in 8 hours by boat or by renting a small airplane for a cost of US$1,000 round trip per person. My project provides technical assistance to the local government of this district to implement a series of activities towards the prevention and control of TB and HIV/AIDS. We train healthcare workers to increase their skills in counseling for PMTC prevention and also for patients in need of ART.

The trainings also include managerial tools so that healthcare providers can allocate enough resources to cover all prevention, health promotion and education activities while still covering resources for rapid tests for TB and HIV/AIDS.

I coordinate the projects with high-level authorities at the national level, as it is essential to ensure that interventions designed to solve performance-based problems can be co-funded by local and regional authorities. Personally reviewing success stories also provide a good example for donors and my own institution to promote successful experiences, which consequently convey important lessons for broader audiences.

Finally, in order to get sustainability once the project is completed, all interventions are promoted and made official by the national health authorities. Our project has also signed agreements with local universities in order to guarantee that all training activities can continue to be offered to augment the technical capacity of health workers in order to prevent and control the transmission of HIV/AIDS.

More information about the project I’m managing are available here: www.calidadensalud.pe/