Health Literacy, Health Communications, Health Education
Process and Challenges of Needs Assessment in the Rural Community of Compone, Peru
(College of Computer, Mathematical and Natural Sciences (UMD) Biology Undergraduate Student)
Public Health Without Borders (PHWB) is a University of Maryland student organization dedicated to addressing global health needs in partnering communities. The PHWB Peru team has built a strong relationship with the town of Compone, Peru, a traditional farming community of 1,500 in the Andean Mountains of southern Peru. The PHWB Peru team has regularly traveled to Compone since 2013, providing educational outreach to the community regarding water sanitation, first aid, personal hygiene, road safety, and community organizing. In order to develop future interventions, PHWB conducted a needs assessment in Compone in January 2017. Over the course of a week, the team conducted six community and four key informant interviews. Participants noted health concerns with depression, gastrointestinal illness, malnutrition, domestic abuse, alcoholism, diabetes, and women’s health. The team members learned about community engagement and analyzed interviews to identify how best to address community health needs. PHWB team members suggest that it would be beneficial to return to Compone, continuing a long-term relationship and demonstrating the team’s commitment to addressing identified health needs with research-based health education. Despite challenges, the trip was successful at engaging the community and obtained the necessary information for future health interventions. The team’s overarching goal is to share the lessons learned with current and future organization members, ensuring that the experience and knowledge gained will contribute to the growth and improvement of the PHWB organization as a whole.