DB Peru's

Educational Programs

Health Worker Classes

Our goal is to improve the overall health of the communities and to provide sustainable healthcare education.

Promoters of Health (Promotores de Salud)

Promotor de Salud is a lay community healthcare worker (CHW) who is either elected by the community, or who has shown an interest in healthcare and has been accepted by the community as the promotor de Salud. Most promotores spend a week with doctors in local clinics in order to further their healthcare knowledge. Some return for more education, but many go back to their villages and assume the role of caretaker for the village’s health care needs.

We believe the better educated the promotor, the better the health of the community. DB Peru organizes 2-4 day classes for the promotores, taught by professional staff from the local clinics and/or foreign professionals. They are taught in Western ways, but also use natural herbs and plants as they know them.

Each promotor receives the book Where there is no Doctor, or Donde no hay Doctor, which is published by the Hesperian Foundation.

DB Peru is participating in a consortium of NGOs (non-governmental organizations) that are working together to develop a standardized program of teaching and identified competencies for promotores. This is in association with the Minister of Health in the Loreto Department of Peru. We envision that our model will be adopted by the Minister of Health to be used throughout Peru.

Due to absence of pharmacies in the jungle, we are working to establish centers for storage of simple and common medicines to be accessed by the promotores to serve their communities.

In order to provide sustainable education, we are working with the promotores on leadership traits and teaching skills so that our teaching can be transitioned to them. Standardized teaching modules are being developed with the hope that they will be seen in their communities as professors of health.

Also promoted through our work are the shamans who assume the role of caring for the village in traditional ways, using potions and balms made of plants, barks and herbs growing nearby. They are sometimes called curanderos, and use a more mystical approach, based in rituals and traditions.


Midwife Classes

Our goal is to reduce maternal and infant morbidity and mortality.

DB Peru organizes 2-day classes for midwives (parteras in Spanish). Our focus is on safe deliveries as well as prenatal and post-delivery care, including care of the newborn.


The learning curriculum is based on guidelines from the Minister of Health in Peru. Classes are taught by local doctors and nurse-midwives (obstetrices) from clinics and hospitals, and are often joined by visiting foreign doctors. At the end of each class, those who complete the program receive a certificate and a delivery kit – a basin filled gloves, scissors, umbilical clamps, suction bulb, soap, pads, measuring tape and other necessary supplies to be used during childbirth.

Each midwife is given the book The Book for Midwives, or El Libro para Parteras, published by the Hesperian Foundation.

During the classes, experienced midwives from the jungle – many with more than 25 years of experience – share their knowledge of local care. One of the advantages of the classes is the networking of the midwives from the different villages, encouraging the newer ones to call on the more experienced midwives as resources.

Classes include resuscitation of newborns with practice on a model.  Advanced midwives receive medications to be used to stop post-partum hemorrhage and the use of an ambu bag to help babies breath.

The number one hazard identified by the midwives in our area is the first-time mother who does not understand about delivery and does not cooperate, which can cause problems during the birth.

A teaching module was developed by Lauren Oberle to train midwives to teach the first-time mothers about the delivery process – what to expect and how to assist when they are in labor.


Infectious Disease

Our goal is to educate villages on identification of the most common infectious diseases of the area to obtain rapid treatment and prevent spread of disease.

In the area surrounding the lower Napo River, there are many infectious and vector-born diseases. The government of Peru has good programs free of cost to address diagnosis and treatment.  However, accessing these programs can be difficult for people living in remote regions. The most common infectious disease of the lower Napo River are:



Dengue Fever


Chicken Pox

Tuberculosis (TB) is one of the top 10 causes of deaths in the world, and one of the biggest killers of all the infectious diseases. Lack of public awareness is one of the greatest problems associated with the disease. As a result, approximately 3 million people are not aware they have active tuberculosis and, almost half of those will die this year.

Using educational materials from existing programs of the Minister of Health is the essential core of our teaching. Our biggest impact is one of advocacy and helping people understand symptoms of each disease, how to access government programs of treatment, what to expect for treatment, and how to prevent spread of disease to other family members or members of community.  Pamphlets with information are given to each attendee and health post for referral in our seminars.

Palliative Care

Care for a person whose health is not expected to improve.

Our goal is to relieve suffering

Sara Warzecka, MD initiated this project with DB Peru and has published the results of a study she conducted in the lower Napo River villages.  Care of people at their end of life, or at a time when they are not expected to improve can be particularly difficult when living in a low resource setting.

Selected health workers are trained on advanced medications and comfort measures to be used when there are people in need in their communities or surrounding villages.  They are given backpacks with supplies and medical equipment to assist with their work.  Education is provided to all community members so they can help to support and to prevent isolation and loneliness of the dying patient.

Dr. Warzecka with patient
Healthcare Workers with Dr. Warzecka
Presentation in Asheville, NC

Health Fair & Soccer Tournament

Our goal is to teach public health and first aid in an atmosphere of fun and sharing.

Our Health Fair has become an excellent opportunity to reach hundreds of people with public health and first aid education. It’s also a great day of fun and activities for both the children and adults of the 28 communities in our region. From demonstrations of nutritional food combinations to dental classes for children to the use of traditional herbs and plants for healing, there is something for everyone. Simple testing and exams are available, such as blood pressure, blood glucose, and breast exams. Reading glasses are distributed to those in need.

The “Copa DB Peru” Soccer Tournament is played throughout the day, with village teams competing for the title. Competition is serious and fierce but the play is fun and the community relationships are strengthened by the event. The stakes are high with all teams vying for the trophy and game ball along with new soccer jerseys for the winners.


Preventative Care

Our goal is to provide education and health screenings that will help keep the communities safe and healthy.


Throughout the year, both formal and impromptu classes are given to educate the people in the villages about healthy living habits and public health concerns. These can include:

Back Safety and lifting techniques

First aid – wound care and splinting

Cardio-pulmonary resuscitation and Heimlich maneuver

Self-breast examinations

Pain alleviating techniques such as acupressure

Public health measures such as caring for your waste, garbage, fencing animals, venting cooking fires, etc.

DB Peru has published a health education booklet, Enfermidades y Tratamientos Más Comunes en el Bajo Napo, (Diseases and Treatments Most Common in the Lower Napo) specifically for this region.


Data was collected from the health clinics conducted by DB Peru, showing the most common health problems.  The new booklet outlines those problems, and includes education about how to care and treat each one, including diagrams.

The booklets are being given to the health workers to disseminate one per family as a gift from DB Peru to more than 500 families.  This project was made possible by donations from Peg Meyer and Corlene Horan.  Some information was taken from the book, Where there is no Doctor, published by the Hesperian Foundation.

In addition, screenings are offered for blood pressure, testing of blood glucose, and heights and weights of children for growth and development.

Norma Louise

Stainsby Memorial

Scholarship Program

Our goal is to prepare young people from the jungle for careers in healthcare.

In memorium, this program honors Norma Louise Stainsby, who spent many years of her life teaching nursing to young students. When she was in her mid-60s, she served in the Peace Corp in Malawi, Africa, and met future husband, Dr. Donald Stainsby. 

Applicants for this program are selected from the jungle villages where we work.  They must have completed secondary school (high school) successfully and have recommendations from teachers and community members. Preferably they will be between 16-25 years old.

The 3-4 year programs are for técnico enfermera (nurse technician) or for pharmacy or laboratory technician. When a student graduates, he/she can work in a clinic or hospital on staff, or work independently in a government clinic. In the case of the nurse technician, their work is mostly technical, hands-on, such as giving medications, starting IVs, suturing, etc.

The school, Reyna de las Americas, was chosen due to its good reputation and its central location in Iquitos, the jungle city.  The Director was so impressed with this scholarship program of bringing students from the jungle that she has at times matched our scholarships with one from the school, allowing us to bring 2 students into the program for every student we pay for. According to her, there are no other scholarship programs such as this available to children from the jungle in this region.

Due to economic conditions of the families in the jungle, the scholarship program will occasionally provide funding for not only the cost of the school, but also the expenses of the student to live in the city. This will vary depending on the resources of the student and his/her family.

Scholarship graduates and student