Bolivia, with a population of approximately 10 million people, is the poorest country in South America. Approximately half of Bolivia's rural population lives at least an hour away from the nearest health post, and some must walk over 10 hours to reach a health post, which may not be adequately staffed or supplied.
Save the Children attempts to address these gaps and works to help improve the health and nutrition of children and their families. In 2010, funds from GlobalGiving donors benefited our health and nutrition programs in the department of Beni. There is a great need for assistance in Beni, as children and families are often faced with high levels of parasite infestation in children (greater than 60%), anemia (19%) and easily preventable childhood illnesses and disease (more than 43%).
Before Save the Children began to implement programs in Beni, 56 percent (21) of the communities did not have easy access to health centers or health posts, nor did they have basic first aid materials. The nearest health post for some beneficiaries was 3 to 4 hours away by motorcycle – or 12 to 24 hours by foot.
Save the Children coordinated with SEDES (Departmental Health Services) and developed a mapping of the impact area to determine the best locations for the communal pharmacies. We used the following parameters:
1) Communities were defined as having a population of at least 150 inhabitants or 30 families.
2) We identified communities that did not have access (more than an hour walk) to the closest health centers.
In coordination with SEDES, Save the Children established 15 communal pharmacies (boticas): two in Trinidad, six in San Javier, five in San Andrés, and two in San Ignacio de Moxos. The boticas are located in isolated communities far from health centers. These boticas are now functioning under the supervision of SEDES in Beni, but managed by community health workers. Save the Children coordinated training for health workers through SEDES and the Red Cross. Training sessions covered how to prevent common childhood illnesses and acute respiratory infections.
With the support of GlobalGiving donors, additional funding from the local NGO PLAGBOL, and collaboration with SEDES, boticas in Beni are now equipped with basic essential medicines and nutritional supplements. Health workers now have the training and assistance needed to address the most common illnesses in their communities, including those that primarily affect children (e.g., diarrhea and colds). In 2010, the 15 boticas in Beni directly benefited 664 families and their 1,067 children. Save the Children is grateful to you, and your fellow donors on GlobalGiving, for helping to provide essential health services to children and families in Bolivia.
 PLAGBOL is an NGO working on the theme of Integrated Plagues Management.