For a second year in a row, Duke students dispatched to the Peruvian Amazon to work on a Bass Connections in Global Health environmental health project were able to participate in other community outreach activities separate from the study.
Led by DGHI research staff and Peruvian partners at the Health Directorate (DIRESA) along the Madre de Dios (MDD) River and Hunt Oil Corporation, Duke student researchers implemented a preventive and health promotion campaign in six communities of the Manu Province this summer. Activities consisted of educational sessions called “charlas” to teach hundreds of community members about oral hygiene, teeth brushing techniques, common oral diseases and the importance of fluoride. With support from the company Intradevco Peru (Dento), the team also provided nearly 500 children and adults with donated toothbrushes, toothpaste and mouthwash.
The students also worked with DIRESA to conduct other outreach activities, such as anemia screening, provision of multivitamin supplements to children, and education about the importance of iron supplements and a balanced diet to prevent anemia.
These community outreach activities began last summer with the first Peru-Bass Connections in Global Health team. This year, the second Bass team coordinated the timing of their field research trip with the community health brigades of DIRESA-MDD and Hunt Oil team. Some Duke students had the chance to shadow Peruvian health care providers during their community visits.
The Peru Bass Connections in Global Health team is studying the impacts of gold mining on human health in the Peruvian Amazon. While phase one of the project largely focused on the environmental impacts, the second phase now under way is working to understand the vulnerability to vector-borne diseases, dietary patterns and nutrition, and mercury toxicity in people living in the communities surrounding the mining sites.
The Peru Bass team is led by DGHI faculty member William Pan and DGHI Associate in Research Ernesto Ortiz. This year, the students were Christina Chao, Priyanka Krishnan, Joshua Latner, Dominic Lucero, Laura Rogers and Lauren Wyatt.