Gustavo Gabriel Farruggia

Ashoka Fellow
Fellow Since 2012
Asociación Civil La Higuera


This profile was prepared when Gustavo Gabriel Farruggia was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2012.
The New Idea
With his organization La Higuera (The Figtree), Gustavo constructs a new paradigm for rural pediatric healthcare in remote areas far from doctors and clinics. Bridging local communities, medical schools and the public health sector, Gustavo has designed an innovative treatment model that is premised on the active role of the local villages themselves. At the core of this work in each isolated community lies the House of Rural Pediatrics, a center for instruction, research, diagnosis, and treatment that brings together local leaders, public health officials, and current medical students. Together, they can provide quality medical attention and follow-up to children, youth, and parents who had never before received such care, or in many cases, any care at all.

Gustavo has harnessed the prowess and manpower of universities and medical students to complete rotations in the Houses scattered around remote areas in Chaco, an isolated province in northern Argentina. Beyond just completing internships and residencies, though, the students are taking part in an entirely new profession of Rural Medicine whose curriculum was developed by La Higuera. Gustavo has designed theoretical and practical courses to teach the particularities of rural healthcare in the hopes of preparing new legions of doctors and medical professionals to serve these isolated communities. Universities have adopted his programs and continue to supply La Higuera with willing, excited and capable medical students, who learn by treating real clients in a context far removed from the normal urban health setting. Furthermore, the students and visiting medical researchers have started to collect medical histories and data to complete epidemiological surveys of the areas, a resource that heretofore has not existed in rural Argentina. Villagers trained by La Higuera will be able to take basic medical histories so that medical professionals can be more productive during their visits. Other village groups will plant communal gardens for a more balanced diet and will teach nutrition and health.

La Higuera is now maximizing its relationships with the provincial public health agencies and government to open new Houses of Rural Pediatrics and to establish new linkages with public hospitals and universities. The system that Gustavo has orchestrated is now prepared for growth to other regions of Argentina, in partnerships with universities and state governments, to provide high-quality pediatric treatment to isolated and forgotten communities. Ultimately Gustavo sees that his clinics will become hubs for greater rural development and a new profession of rural medicine.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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