IOM Health Project with Indigenous Migrants from Panama Wins Two Awards at the 5th ECLAC Social Innovation Fair

The primary healthcare project Finca Sana, implemented by IOM and
the Costa Rican Social Security Fund (CCSS), was awarded First
Prize among health projects and Third Prize overall in the 5th
Latin American and Caribbean Social Innovation Fair, organized by
the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean

IOM's Finca Sana project provides care for some 15,000 temporary
Ngöbe-Buglé indigenous labour migrants each year.

The Fair, held 11-13 November 2009 at the University of San
Carlos in Guatemala City, featured 13 finalists of the 2008-2009
Experiences in Social Innovation Contest, organized by ECLAC with
support from the W.K. Kellog Foundation.

According to Diana Trimiño, IOM Project Officer, "Both
awards recognize this pioneering initiative, in particular the
strategic alliance between a public institution, an international
organization and the beneficiaries, whose health needs were
previously invisible, causing serious health problems."

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"This population had high rates of infant and maternal mortality,
malnutrition, parasitosis and preventable pathologies which have
been reduced significantly thanks to Finca Sana," explains Pablo
Ortiz, Director of the Coto Brus Health Area of the Costa Rican
Social Security Fund, and IOM's partner in this project.

Activities with the Ngöbe-Buglé have been ongoing in
Coto Brus, located in the south of the country, since 2003 under
the leadership of the Health Area of Coto Brus of the Costa Rican
Social Security Fund.  In 2007, IOM began supporting this
initiative through the Finca Sana project, financed by the World
Bank Development Marketplace .

Finca Sana aims to improve the health conditions of the
Ngöbe-Buglé migrant population, who migrate each year
to work in the coffee harvest in Costa Rica.  With an
intercultural approach, mobile health teams (from the CCSS) , with
support from indigenous cultural navigators trained and supported
by IOM, visit farms during the coffee harvest, providing basic
services to the migrant workers to keep them healthy.

At the recently held Innovation Fair, each of the projects
presented its experience to a committee, who then selected those
who demonstrated a vision of social innovation, active
participation and reasonable costs.

Finca Sana, presented with the title of Integral Health Care for
the highly mobile indigenous population, has been awarded first
place in the health category and third place overall.

The selection criteria included:

  • An innovative project serving indigenous migrant workers from
  • Active search for indigenous people on coffee farms and in
    homes to provide primary health care.
  • Employees as primary health care providers, which reduces
    costs. This service is provided after working hours.
  • Active participation of indigenous men and women as cultural
    advisers and trained in primary health care in their own
  • Establishment of a health post at the border to conduct
    screenings, without national or ethnic distinction.
  • A model that can be easily replicated at any border.

According to Ortiz, very significant results have been achieved
from the programme: the proportion of indigenous migrants in
hospitals has been reduced by 20%; emergency care costs have
decreased by 37 per cent; infant mortality rates in this area have
declined from 17.2 per thousand live births in 2001 to 9.2 in 2007,
making it lower than the current national average. 
Additionally, it is a cost-efficient programme: the total cost per
beneficiary is only USD 19, saving the State USD 600,000 in the
last three years.

Ortiz added, "The number of people with diarrhea, one of the
leading causes of infant mortality, has been reduced.  The
incidence of bronchopneumonia caused by rotavirus transmitted
through the hands has also declined.  This was achieved by
distributing soap to each of the participants at the talks."

The USD 15,000 prize received will be invested in equipment to
provide continuity and sustainability to the activities and
objectives of the programme, which officially ends in December

For more information visit:

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Or contact:

Ana Beatriz Fernández

IOM Costa Rica

Tel: +506.2221.5348, ext. 136

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