Bolivia—Pediatric Health in La Paz
- Clinical Rotations
- Excursions and Day Trips
- Study Abroad Advisory of Student Risk
- About Bolivia
- Weather and Climate
- Research Your Destination
Bolivia has the highest percentage of indigenous peoples in Latin America, the Quechua and Aymara ethnic groups alone making up approximately half of the population of this diverse country. This program is based in the capital of La Paz, a cosmopolitan city confronting inequities between social classes and ethnic groups. Nationwide indigenous groups have less access to public health insurance and only 30% of indigenous women give birth in hospitals. In fact, in Latin America unequal access to healthcare is still the number one killer of moms and kids (World Bank). In the last 10 years, however, political changes have meant improved access to health and educational services for the poorest of the poor including a focus on social services provided by the government for children and adolescents. Students will experience the challenges of providing healthcare and social services for children in resource-poor settings, many from indigenous communities with distinct cultural views and languages. In addition to clinical rotations, students take medical and conversational Spanish classes, reside with a homestay family in La Paz, and can choose to volunteer at a local orphanage.
Participants in Bolivia will be housed in a homestay with a local family in the Sopocachi Neighborhood (central, upper middle class neighborhood, homestays usually apartments in high rise buildings). There will be two to three students per homestay (own room), depending on number of students at program site. Specific details about accommodations will be provided approximately 3 weeks prior to departure.
UC Davis reserves the right to change the accommodation location. Should this be necessary, we will arrange comparable lodging. Please note that elevators, air conditioners and other modern conveniences may not be available in all locations.
Two meals a day are included in the program: breakfast and a late lunch (2 PM).
Clinical rotations will start on Monday of the second week and usually take place in the mornings for 4 to 6 hours usually Monday through Friday for the remaining four weeks with Spanish language classes held in the afternoon (total 30 hours). Once a week students will meet with the Medical Director to discuss experiences at the clinics and hospitals. A lecture on a health related topics will also be provided. Students can use this time to discuss particular issues of interest, review their progress in clinic or bring up any concerns they may have. Clinical rotation sites include:
Public Pediatric Hospital
This hospital is a leading research center and teaching hospital, specializing in infectious diseases. Participants will rotate and assist with consults within specialties including oncology, surgery, emergency, nephrology, infectious disease and outpatient care.
Municipal Hospital, El Alto
This facility serves low income mostly indigenous mothers and children and is extremely busy. Participants will rotate alongside local pediatricians, including CFHI Medical Director, Dr. Cecilia Uribe de Chavez, and assist with patient intake and counseling on hygiene, nutrition, and newborn care, as well as physical exams for patients primarily from underserved communities.
Nonprofit Teaching Hospital
This facility provides both inpatient and outpatient services to street children and adolescents. Community outreach is paramount here and mobile medical unites provide free healthcare services to homeless children and adolescents in the poorest neighborhoods. Participants will assist mobile units with primary care and screenings, provision of nutritional supplements, and treatment of dermatological diseases. They will also rotate alongside local physicians’ specialties including internal medicine, surgery, pediatrics, OB/GYN, neurology, intensive care, and trauma.
Outpatient Adolescent Clinic
This clinic provides medical, odonatological, and psychological services to adolescents. Participants will assist with patient intake, prenatal exams, and OB/GYN services for young women.
Short excursions and day trips will be included during orientation week.
Orientation week sample schedule:
- 15 hours of Spanish classes
- Walking tour of downtown La Paz
- Welcome dinner and cultural show
- Field trip to the hospital to meet all preceptors and staff
- Lectures about Bolivian history, culture, politics, economy, and public health
- Day tour of Lake Titicaca and Tiwanaku ruins
Participation in this UC Davis Study Abroad program requires travel to and extended living in a foreign location(s) abroad. UC Davis Study Abroad endeavors to reduce and mitigate risk wherever possible. However, the environments and risks associated with living in these locations are substantially different than those found during a regular course of study at UC Davis. All participants must download and review the following information prior to departure. Any questions should be directed to the Program Coordinator.
La Paz is dizzying in every respect, not only for its well-publicized altitude (3660m), but for its quirky beauty. Most travelers enter this extraordinary city via the flat sparse plains of the sprawling city of El Alto, an approach that hides the sensational surprises of the valley below. The first glimpse of La Paz will, literally, take your breath away. The city’s buildings cling to the sides of the canyon and spill spectacularly downwards. On a clear day, the imposing showy, snowy Mt Illimani (6402m) looms in the background.
La Paz must be savored over time, not only to acclimatize to the altitude, but to experience the city’s many faces. Wander at leisure through the alleys and lively markets, marvel at the interesting museums, chat to the locals in a comedor or relax over a coffee at a trendy café.
Since La Paz is sky-high, warm clothing is desirable most of the year, at least in the evenings. In summer (November to April) the climate can be harsh: rain falls most afternoons, the canyon may fill with clouds and steep streets often become torrents of runoff. In winter (May to October) days can be slightly cooler, but the sun (and its UV rays) is strong and temperatures reach the high 60s, but at night it often dips below freezing.
Source: Lonely Planet
Bolivian Currency: Bolivianos
Language Spoken: Spanish, Quechua, and Aymara are the most common of Bolivia’s 37 official languages