The Medicos Bolivia project is focused on Cochabamba, Bolivia, Rotary District 4690, in central Bolivia. The project aims to increase the operative, post-operative outcomes for low socio-economic members receiving cardio vascular surgeries and during the training pay for the operations of up to fifty low socio-economic Bolivians chosen because their income is vital to their family unit.

Bolivia is one of the poorest countries in Latin America. Much of this country, of approximately 10 million, is at high altitude. Cardiovascular disorders have a high impact on the population, especially those in the low socio economic part of the population whose access to quality medical care is limited. The quality of training of health care professionals is low due to the high cost of up to date training in the latest procedures and post-operative care methods. There are interventional cardiology facilities available in only three cities in Bolivia, La Paz, Cochabamba and Santa Cruz and only in private hospitals. While there are Government hospitals, it is typically still a “user-pay” system. There is no universal healthcare system in Bolivia and while health insurance exists, it is a mainly for the wealthy. The World Bank estimates that 45% of the Bolivian population are living below the poverty line. Those without access to funds to pay for healthcare simply go without.

The Rotary Club of Norwest Sunrise (Bella Vista), Rotary District 9685, have invited Open Heart International (OHI) to be involved in the project who will provide skilled medical volunteers, expertise and strategy. OHI is an organisation of volunteer medical professional experienced in delivering medical training to third world countries.

The Univalle University Hospital, in Cochabamba, have offered to become a training hospital to pass on the skills learned during the vocational training to other colleagues within Bolivia. It costs approximately US$16,000 to US$20,000 for a cardiothoracic surgery at all Bolivian hospitals except the Univalle University Hospital in Cochabamba which only charges US$10,000. For this project the Univalle University Hospital will further discount the cost of operations performed as part of the teaching down to an average of US$6,000 each.

The project’s goals are to:

* Foster skill development in cardiology and cardiac surgery for doctors in Cochabamba, and other areas of Bolivia

* Improve post-operative intensive care outcomes

* Improve the quality of life for patients unable to access surgery due to economic hardship

* Expand the knowledge and practices of cardiothoracic and cardiovascular operative and postoperative care of patients receiving cardiothoracic and cardiovascular surgery.

* For the Univalle University Hospital to become a national reference and learning centre for cardiothoracic doctors by providing training and knowledge sharing acquired throughout the project.

* Create an exchange program for Bolivian doctors to travel to Australia.

* Establish a link with the OHI medical volunteers as a source of consultation, mentoring and sharing of knowledge of future surgical techniques.

The Medico Bolivia project spans three years with one OHI training visit per year (2016-2018) and one observational visit by two Bolivian surgeons to Australia in 2016. In between visits the doctors will consult via video conference.

Total funds required to complete the project are US$283,600. The vocational training teams VTT Global Grant number is GG1639940.

If your club or district would like to contribute to high impact project please contact our club.