Juan Reátegui Silva
Fellow Since 2001
This profile was prepared when Juan Reátegui Silva was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2001.
The New Idea
Juan has established intercultural health councils in Amazon communities across Peru, which serve to rebuild confidence in traditional health practices, offer training in appropriate techniques of Western medicine, and initiate new systems for decision-making and conflict resolution at the community level. The councils are operated cooperatively by a local shaman (traditional healer), a technically trained local health promoter, and a traditional midwife, with the support of the community leadership. This team works together to provide patients treatment within their own communities, as opposed to far-away hospitals. By combining traditional healing practices with modern technology, the team is able to treat illnesses appropriately. Juan has also designed an Institute of Intercultural Health that will both train medicine men and midwives in conventional medicine and reinforce traditional knowledge and skills. It is the intention of Juan's program not only to improve the health of the Amazonian communities but also to develop self-esteem in these indigenous communities by placing a high value on their health practices and technologies.