In Ecuador, PAHO/WHO engaged with the local civil society organization Fundación Pachamama (Foundation Pachamama) to jointly plan a comprehensive, community-based intervention in the Achuar and Shuar indigenous communities to mitigate the pandemic’s impact, showcasing ways to maintain the continuum of essential health services in remote communities through the empowerment and training of indigenous women as community health workers (health promoters).
Through this initiative Ecuador enabled local civil society organizations (CSOs) to empower indigenous Amazonian women in becoming “agents of change” and engaging their communities against COVID-19 and future emergencies.
According to Narcisa Maschiento, Health Promoter on Maternal Health and co-founder of the pre-existing Program Ikiami Nukuri of the Foundation Pachamama, they have been working for 10 years on the topic of empowerment for Achuar indigenous women and on maternal and child health. For several of the health promoters (also known as community health workers ) not only did the workshops train them as professional midwives to understand the early warnings in pregnant women, and equip them with lifesaving tools as a way to give back to their communities, but they also felt respected and serving a purpose.
Through the various training offered by Pachamama and with PAHO's technical support, participant indigenous women have been able to realize the importance of their involvement to make their communities more resilient.