Inspired by a vision of quality and fairness in health care for the poor, EPES (Educación Popular en Salud) was founded in 1982, during Chile’s years of military dictatorship, as a project of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Chile(IELCH). Over the past 27 years, EPES has grown from a small emergency-response team to a leader of community mobilization for health services, awareness and empowerment.
Today, EPES annually reaches over 145,000 women and their families in poor communities with innovative strategies and tools for collective action.
First aid Training in the 1990s
EPES works from two centers, in the Chilean capital of Santiago, and in Concepción, the country’s second largest city. The Santiago office, located in the El Bosque district, houses a documentation center and a large meeting room used by the local community. In Concepción, EPES’ Gaston Toledo Center for Popular Heath was inaugurated in 2006 in the municipality of Hualpén, and houses a resource center, accommodations for small groups, and a community hall graced by a spectacular mural depicting the paths to women’s empowerment.
In 2002, EPES became an independent foundation with non-profit status in Chile. A Board of Directors comprised of academics, Lutheran Church representatives, human rights leaders and social justice activists now directs its activities. The EPES staff is supported and sustained by hundreds of community residents who volunteer their time, talents and hard work. The US-based Action for Health in the Americas (AHA) partners with EPES to support its the sustainability of its work for health rights in Chile and the Americas.
WHAT WE DO
EPES trains individuals and communities to identify the root causes of illness and fight for improved conditions and services, especially for women. Health priorities include HIV/AIDS, reproductive health, domestic violence, environmental health, community mental health and women’s health.
Training health promoters
EPES trains local health promoters who study the needs of their communities, advocate for improvements, and work directly with their neighbors and local authorities and services.
EPES trains health professionals and university students from Chile, US, Canada and Europe and has provided technical assistance to projects in Chile, Bolivia, Argentina, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Uruguay.
Educating the community
EPES creates and distributes innovative health education materials. Board games and mural painting are a hallmark of EPES community outreach actions.
Empowering the community
EPES develops community-based strategies to address the underlying causes of poor health: poverty, violence, powerlessness, discrimination and so many other injustices faced by the most vulnerable members of society.
Through community organization and empowerment, people can make long–term, sustainable changes to improve health and quality-of-life for themselves, society and future generations.
Santiago: Gral. Köerner 38, P 30 Gran Avenida, El Bosque. Casilla100, Correo 14, La Cisterna
Fono (56-2) 54 87 617, Fax: (56-2) 54 86 021, Email: [email protected] Concepción: Cautín 9133, Población René Schneider, Hualpén. Fono/Fax: (56-41) 247 0570. E-mail: [email protected]