Patricia Blanco

Ashoka Fellow
Cochabamba, Bolivia
Fellow Since 2003


This profile was prepared when Patricia Blanco was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2003.
The New Idea
Patricia is involving communities in every aspect of breaking down the critical health problem of nutrition. Teachers and high school students are gathering information that has not been systematically collected before about what families actually eat in a day. With Patricia's training, community members create nutrition programs that will last because they have designed them to fit needs they have assessed themselves, and because they are learning how to secure allocations in the budgets of their municipalities to fund the programs. While her trainees interview people about what they eat, they are also able to identify people at high risk for diabetes, which, in the type common in the Andean region, is manageable chiefly through diet. Thus, Patricia's work deals with two health problems at once. She sees diabetes as eminently treatable under the "umbrella" focus on food and nutritional security.
Patricia works with doctors, nurses, community health promoters, mothers, mayors, and other local leaders, but her primary training focus has become normalistas–university students who are preparing to become teachers. The student teachers are enthusiastically studying her principles of diagnostics and diet change. They have encouraged a university with an exclusive food-service contract to make room for a health bar and have made attractive presentations in villages about eating well. Most important, they get nutrition education into the classroom. There, they are in daily contact with children, whom Patricia sees as uniquely able to educate their mothers, the food preparers.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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