Delivering TB Care to Remote Indigenous Communities in the Amazon

Department of Loreto, Peru. (Wikipedia/Huhsunqu)

Deep in the Amazon rainforest of Peru lies the Loreto region, home to isolated indigenous communities with little access to healthcare. As a result, tuberculosis, a deadly infectious disease, has hit these communities hard. Socios En Salud, the Peru branch of Partners In Health, embarked on an ambitious mission to reach these remote communities and provide TB testing and care.

Armed with portable x-ray equipment and molecular testing capabilities, a small team of health workers traveled for 10 grueling days across the Amazon basin. Braving intense heat and humidity, they visited 18 indigenous communities to provide hundreds of free TB screenings. For diagnosed patients, they arranged transport to clinics where TB treatment was available. Despite having little medical care themselves, community members welcomed the interventions, grateful for the chance to get screened.

The challenges were immense — lack of electricity, washed out roads, language barriers — but the team persisted. Guided by cell phone lights down muddy paths, they hand-delivered test results to elderly patients in their homes. Their efforts uncovered dozens of new TB cases that would have otherwise gone undiagnosed. As one community member remarked, “There were people asking when we were coming back…They were very grateful.”

Most communities reached by the team could only be accessed by boat.

This story of determination illustrates the lengths Socios En Salud goes to bring healthcare to those in need. In the face of geographic, economic and cultural barriers, their health workers venture to the ends of the earth to diagnose treatable illnesses. Thanks to their interventions, remote communities in Peru’s rainforests are getting a chance at better health. More work remains, but this marks an important step in the fight against tuberculosis.

Read the complete article about this medical mission on the Partners in Health website.

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