By Laura Rosalyn Messing , Pro Mujer intern.
The inauguration of the Club de la Salud last week in Puno was a great success. Pro Mujer clients, known as socias, employees and managers all celebrated the launch of a new way to keep themselves and their families healthy. The Club de la Salud provides a packet of essential health services including unlimited doctors visits for the cardholder, two doctors visits for any family member, a pap exam or laboratory exam, a blood-glucose test, dental cleaning and filling, and either a complete ultrasound or a laboratory exam. Additionally, clients pay reduced prices for extra services they or their family members may need, and also receive discounts in certain specialties such as pediatrics, cardiology and gynecology.
How do these simple services, which are often viewed as ubiquitous aspects of general medicine as we know it, translate into a groundbreaking phenomenon for Pro Mujer and its clients? Not only is seeing a doctor for primary prevention and screenings often impractical and unaffordable for many of the socias, but many will also put off seeing a doctor when they are ill because a day without work is a day without income. According to Naldi Delgado Cruz, General Manager of Pro Mujer in Peru, the Club de la Salud was created to “facilitate prevention, early detection and access to treatment by offering these services in the same locations where our clients already go for their financial transactions.”
While convenience plays a significant role in the successful utilization of healthcare services, cost is often cited as a persistent barrier for the socias as well. According to a survey completed this year in Puno, 44.5 percent of Pro Mujer clients delayed seeking medical treatment because they could not afford it. Therefore, providing a health plan that is not only comprehensive, but that also addresses financial barriers is of utmost importance. With this in mind, Pro Mujer created three ways for the socias to purchase the Club de la Salud package to facilitate access: through their savings accounts, in installments with a specially designed microloan or upfront with cash.
Such a unique intervention is obviously deserving of an equally exceptional inauguration. Teams from each focal center fastidiously prepared the festivities until late Thursday night by decorating, arranging furniture, reviewing Friday´s agenda and packing goodie bags. During the festivities on Friday morning, a film on making healthy lunches for kids was screened, goodie bags were distributed and a poignant speaker/Pro Mujer client correlated her victory over cervical cancer to the screenings and treatment she received from Pro Mujer years ago. After all of the presentations and speeches, the socias were invited to meet the new doctor and tour the renovated medical facilities, including the mobile clinic. Women saw the ultrasound machine, the dental facilities and were able to get acquainted with Dr. Carlos and the supporting medical staff. The inauguration was such a hit that it made its way into a local newspaper.
One of the most inspiring aspects of the inauguration was the coming together of the entire Pro Mujer community. Managers from Lima humbly thanked individual socias for trusting Pro Mujer with their health and finances, socias giggled together and remarked on the niceness of the event, and the centro focal staff beamed with pride on the periphery. Toasts were made, healthy appetizers were enjoyed and many women were given their first opportunity to improve the health and the lives of their families with affordable, convenient, and quality services. ¡Salud!