The Healthy Living Initiative (HLI) was born in 2009 to respond to the question: “how can long-term sustainable elimination of Chagas disease in southern Ecuador be achieved?” To seek answers to this question the Infectious and Tropical Disease Institute (ITDI) formed an alliance with the Center for International Studies (CIS) at Ohio University and the Center for Research on Health in Latin America (CISeAL), at Pontifical Catholic University of Ecuador (PUCE).
Starting with a blank whiteboard, graduate students and faculty investigated how similar efforts had been conducted worldwide and, in 2010, carried out the first field research to understand the problem of Chagas elimination from the perspective of local stakeholders and the inhabitants of three rural communities in Loja province, who are directly caught up in this intractable problem.
The data collected led to three action lines: Infrastructure, Income Generation and Health. After a conscious research, we discovered that all efforts to eradicate Chagas Disease in Southern Ecuador might be inefficient if we do not face the structural issues that have an impact on the matter.
In a pursuit of fair health conditions for everybody, the idea of modifying the architecture of the homes of those who are at risk of infection came up. The solution is not only ideal, but also targets the three action lines that move this project. By building new Chagas resistant houses, we are changing the structural conditions for infection in southern Ecuador and also setting a foundation for social development and human wellbeing in Loja.
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Related links: Combating Chagas in Ecuador