Vivir Saludable / Healthy Living

Vivir Saludable / Healthy Living

$10,000 - $50,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

The project “Healthy Living” is a long term initiative aimed at providing socio economic development of the rural communities affected by the Chagas disease (ECh) in the province of Loja in Southern Ecuador. With an integral approach, this public health strategy is intended to prevent the transmission of ECh and other diseases related to poverty, by facilitating human sustainable and continued participation process of human development for the involved populations. This project is based on the information gather throughout ten years of biologic, epidemiologic and social research on ECh in Southern Ecuador.

About Project

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Chagas disease is caused by the Trypanosome cruzi parasite, transmitted by the stool of insects of the subfamily Triatominae. These insects proliferate in precarious rural houses. This disease has become into a worldwide concern since the incidence of the disease stop being restricted to endemic countries within America due to the high rte of migration of Latin American people to northern hemisphere countries. The Healthy Living initiative is developed within this context and its main challenge is to understand the interaction and dynamics among the communities, the socio economic systems and the ecosystems. We believe that our mission as healthcare professionals, development and academics, is to support, guide and channel the community strengths towards a “healthy life” that promotes social change through the integral improvement of the life conditions of the communities involved. In order to achieve these goals we must understand and improve the interactions among community members and the environment, so that communities achieve integral benefits with benefits that promote the control of the Chagas disease in southern Ecuador. Likewise, we promote the government involvement and strengthening and the collaboration among non government organization working in the area. We base our intervention in data obtained Turing the last 10 years of multidisciplinary research in southern Ecuador.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

The five action lines of “Healthy Living” are based on the priorities defined by the communities and these are: 1) improve the access to healthcare, 2) infrastructure development (roads, water supply, housing) 3) increase employment and economic resources opportunities 4) training to the financially active population and 5) strengthen the safety within the households and the community. Among its main activities we find: • Consultation processes to establish intervention priorities and organizational models appropriate to the context. • Education on health addressed to different actors within the community and based on clinic activities (Physical and laboratory tests). • Environmental education aimed at recognizing and maintaining local resources such as drinkable water and biodiversity; a combination of academic knowledge with local stories. • Generation of economic activities that allow generating income to local inhabitants (commercialization of products, crafts production, ecotourism, among others) • Housing improvements by means of research processes that enable the design of healthy housing adapted to the needs, possibilities and wishes of the community. • Accompaniment to organization activities and decision making and local resources management processes. • Strict documentation of all the activities and processes so that these can be replicated in other communities within the region. • Permanent assessment of activities’' effects.
About You
Centro de Investigación en Enfermedades Infecciosas de la Pontificia Universdad Católica del Ecuador
About You
First Name


Last Name


About Your Organization
Organization Name

Centro de Investigación en Enfermedades Infecciosas de la Pontificia Universdad Católica del Ecuador

Organization Phone

593 2 2991700

Organization Address

Av. 12 de Octubre 1076 y Roca

Organization Country

, P

Country where this project is creating social impact

, L

How long has your organization been operating?

More than 5 years

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What stage is your project in?

Operating for 1‐5 years

Tell us about the community that you engage? eg. economic conditions, political structures, norms and values, demographic trends, history, and experience with engagement efforts.

Guara, Bella María and Chaquizhca communities were affected in the province due to the presence of insects within the households. Speedy social, clinic, economic, political and ecological test under an environmental impact analysis framework enabled us to learn about the context in which the intervention would be initiated. In brief, the life conditions within the area are linked to poverty traps which hinder the construction of healthy environments: lack of employment, weak family economies, limited access to basic services (drinkable water, sanitation, healthcare providers etc.). Main community strengths include a favorable environment to agriculture production, the biodiversity of the area, indigenous practices and traditional farming, networks of local regional and national organizations that work in the development of the area and an active communication network (schools, local radio and mobile phone). On the other hand, the challenges that the community will have to face are mainly the lack of social cohesion, the weakness of the local response to the needs of the community and the urgent challenges regarding the areas’ infrastructure (roads, water supply and sewerage). The communities have actively worked as the managers of the initiative.

Share the story of the founder and what inspired the founder to start this project

Mario J. Grijalva studied biology in Ecuador 1992 and obtained a doctorate degree in United States in 1997. As from 2000 he works as Director in the Infectious diseases Research Center of the Ecuador’s’ Catholic University as well as professor in the Faculty of Medicine of the Ohio University USA. As from 1992 Mario has done research on the Chagas disease in Ecuador and has published 27 scientific studies at international level. As from 1999 he has been working in the development of the research capacity in Ecuador through the creation of infrastructure and education of professionals at local level. Although broad scientific information has been generated, the conditions of the population in the areas affected by Chagas disease has been slightly modified during the last decade. The Healthy Living initiative is developed due to the need of creating a long-term demonstrative control model on ECh in Ecuador, which based on the application of scientific knowledge and the participation of the communities, manages to be replicable and sustainable. By means of the hard work and the dedication devoted by a team of young Ecuadorian scientist, Mario achieved that government and non government organizations within the area support his initiative. His trajectory is acknowledged at national and international level and this guarantees the projects.

Social Impact
Please describe how your project has been successful and how that success is measured

A scientific experiment is reliable only to the extent that the obtained measures can be reproduced, that is to say it lacks random measurement error. The project includes a consistent system to gather data in the field which enables the development of research that supports the formulation of a model of eradication of the Chagas disease in Ecuador. All data collected, within the field and the laboratory, are stored in data bases that allow the registration of the present situation and monitoring to possible changes in the behavior of the disease. Eventually the knowledge generated will be shared with the scientific community, organizations focused on healthcare and the community in general. A consistent, reliable and reproducible data Collection allow the reliable assessment of the Chagas disease in Ecuador and in the rest of the globe. Probably the most important parameter of project’s evaluation is the receptivity of local residents upon the arrival of different intervention groups and the horizontality of the relationships built among all stakeholders.

How many people have been impacted by your project?


How many people could be impacted by your project in the next three years?

More than 10,000

Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact

Support the creation of community scenarios for decision making; facilitate the access to government instances aimed at resource management and strengthen the skills of the community.

Task 1

Generation of organization skills through communitarian meetings using shared need as axis. The implementation of drinkable water system is being used as a basis to this purpose.

Task 2

Permanent accompaniment, support and advice to community leaders and the community in general aimed at solving their needs. Rights and obligation of residents are acknowledged.

Task 3

Provide community residents with training on several issues of interest that promote human and economic development.

Identify your 12-month impact milestone

1.Promote the access to the basic infrastructure required to improve the life conditions of the population.
2.Generate an integral Communications strategy.
3 Funds management.

Task 1

Accompaniment in the process of management and implementation of drinkable water system which will be provided by Ayuda en Acción.

Task 2

Provide support to improve the access of the communities through "Participative budgets, implemented meeting in local governments.

Task 3

Improve healthcare through training to community health care providers.

How will your project evolve over the next three years?

Over the upcoming eight years the Healthy Living initiative must evolve in the design of a housing model that hinders insects’ infections which can be implemented, replicable and extendable, socially equitable, ecologically sustainable and adapted to the cultural and social reality of the communities. This housing model must be created, installed and assessed to allow it replicability within other Cantón Calvas areas and then in the whole province of Loja. In this regard, the project will carry out a strict documentation of the process and will mainly work on the strengthening of the social and local government organizations. Likewise it will promote the initiative at national and international level to gather resources for its implementation.

What barriers might hinder the success of your project and how do you plan to overcome them?

The Healthy Living initiative does not intend to change people’s behavior, on the contrary it aims at stimulating people’s critical and creative thinking so that they manage to administer their lives and take the responsibility of maintaining the initiative in an autonomous manner. The hugest challenge for this intervention is to understand the interactions and dynamics between communities, socio political and economic systems and the eco-systems. Many development and healthcare professionals support the idea that the intervention must provide communities with support to solve their problems in contrast with public health inflexible traditional models. Thus, the Healthy Living initiative is based on the acceptance that the each the uniqueness of each community defines the development and undertakes more healthy lifestyles.
On the other hand, there are certain barriers that have been identified as from execution in the field. It is about the lack of social cohesion within communities and the lack of action in the agreed commitments by the local government. Instead of considering these obstacles to the success of the initiative we might think about these as issues that may delay the achievement of goals.

Tell us about your partnerships

Te intervention aims at joining the efforts carried out by local, national and international organizations present in La Loja province by integrating their own activities with government initiatives such as Participative Budgets and the Good Living Plan (Sumac Kasey). Likewise the project is interested in working jointly with civil organizations, leaded by the decentralized Cantón Calvas Autonomous Government and the Ministry of Public Health, to support inclusion and participation of families in finding their own solution applying a critical and reflexive analysis from their own reality,
Te initiatives technical direction is in charge of Dr. Mario J. Grijalva, Director of the Tropical Disease Institute within Ohio University and the Tropical Diseases’ Research Center in Pontifical Catholic University in Ecuador. Also, the project has a Coordinating Committee composed by representatives from the following institutions: Guara,s communitarian development committee, Luranda, Chaquizhca and Bella María (CODECOM) GADCC) decentralized Cantón Calvas Autonomous Government, The Minister of Public Health, Plan Internacional (PLAN) Ayuda en Acción Foundation, Ohio University Pontifical Catholic University in Ecuador (PUCE). This committee is responsible for supporting the formulation of an action plant, provide support for the execution of specific activities and assess the progress of the initiative. Lastly, the Ministry of Health facilitates insects’ controls within communities and support the communitarian healthcare work

Explain your selections

AS from 2008, the year when we carried out the first visit to the communities that are now part of the study, inhabitants have always showed interest in the interventions performed by our team. The interest expressed by the community the support provided by Plan Internacional who has been working in the field and providing support to our interventions as from 2003, allowed us to think ahead, Healthy Living, an integral strategy to control de Chagas disease in Ecuador applying a perspective focused on the people and the environment .Within this context, individuals, government and non government organizations and universities became into the actors in the development scenario. The combination of knowledge and capacities turned this initiative into a challenge that had to be taken and achievable.
The initiative promotes a financial co-participation of benefited individuals. In this manner the economic effort made by families, as well as their contribution in terms of work or local materials, make them value the achievements and contribute to improve the population’s moral and self esteem. Also, the resident’s management before the government and non government organizations is facilitated and technical support to them is supported so that at national level they administer the resources which enable them to meet the needs of the population. These efforts are supplemented by the management of international of financial support to document the process and assess the effectiveness of the activities.

How do you plan to strengthen your project in the next three years?

Local NGOs, Ayuda en Acción and Plan Internacional have been enthusticic about the identification of investors interested in the initiative. The trajectory of both institutions makes this process potentially favorable to the project. On the other hand, Ohio University (OU) Pontifical Catholic University in Ecuador (PUCE) are constantly looking for opportunities that generate sustainability to the project at short an long term. This initiative is designed in such manner that to the extent the project moves forward the results obtained feedback the huge possibilities of receiving local and international funds. The direct relationship between PUE and OU favors ad facilitated the scenario for this purpose.
In addition the project emphasizes the development of the local government capacity to manage funds and implement actions that meet the needs of the community. The progressive strengthening of the local capacities will translate into the strengthening of the project.
Last, the design f integral communication campaign will allow strengthening the participation and commitment of benefited individuals at community level, it will facilitate the fulfillment of commitments by local and national organizations and will facilitate fund raising and will set the pattern for replicating the initiative in other communities in the region, province and country.

Which barriers to health and well-being does your innovation address?
Please select up to three in order of relevancy to your project.


Incentives for unhealthy living


Limited access to preventative tools or resources


Lack of access to targeted health information and education

Please describe how your innovation specifically tackles the barriers listed above.

Community participation is the key fundamental of the Healthy Living initiative. By means of the promotion of a genuine and participative leadership within the communities, decisions will be taken in a consensus of opinion to improve the life conditions of the community. Training process addressed to members of the community and the strengthening institutions at local level will allow the mobilization of resources that improve the access to tools that improve wellbeing and promote the prevention of diseases and improve people’s safety and properties. Finally, the communication campaign will help to enlarge the knowledge about the problems and their solutions, as well as the promotion of constructive and healthy habits.

How are you growing the impact of your organization or initiative?
Please select up to three potential pathways in order of relevancy to you.


Repurposed your model for other sectors/development needs


Enhanced existing impact through addition of complementary services


Influenced other organizations and institutions through the spread of best practices

Please describe which of your growth activities are current or planned for the immediate future.

At present the initiative is ending the formative research phase, during which information on the present situation of the community, local and national stakeholders were gathered. We are now strengthening local leadership within communities. The next step is to make use of said information to design the concrete interventions to be carried out. This is a participative process where beneficiaries will be supported to analyze the gather information and propose specific actions. These actions will be converted into financing proposals at local, national and international level, which will be followed by management and implementation.

Do you collaborate with any of the following: (Check all that apply)

Government, NGOs/Nonprofits, Academia/universities.

If yes, how have these collaborations helped your innovation to succeed?

The Academy is where the initiative is originated. Data gathered by the scientific research in the Pontifical Catholic University and the Ohio University support the project. Research has been carried out in cooperation with the Ecuadorian Ministry of Public Health local councils and NGOs working in the field. The serious trajectory, clear funds management and production of products have provided the group leading the project with high credibility. All these activities leaded to developing functional collaborative relationships among all organizations involved which translate into huge public response at local, national and international level.