Christopher Michael Bergen

amazon-healthcare: false,center,1100,0,0,page,18,left,3,95,normal,FFFFFF,000000,true,The Peruvian Amazon is an immensely wild and biodiverse corner of the world where people live closely entwined with their natural environment. In a region the size of California with no road access, the rivers act as highways linking villages to towns and towns to cities. The vast majority of travel is done by boat although, for many, gasoline is prohibitively expensive or completely unobtainable. It can take days, or even weeks, for someone to reach one of the three hospitals, which, while centrally located, are nonetheless many hundreds of miles away from a large percentage of the population. To overcome these geographic barriers to healthcare, the Peruvian Ministry of Health has built over 300 health centers throughout the Peruvian Amazon. However, only a handful of these health centers are equipped with qualified personnel and the tools and medicines necessary to address the needs of the population. Additionally, some of these health centers are just empty buildings. Compounding the issue is the question of how to pay for needed healthcare. The free health services that the Peruvian government offers for the poor only covers the cost of treatment for those that can reach a health facility and does not account for associated costs such as travel, lodging, and food for family members who must accompany the sick. Many people in the Peruvian Amazon are subsistence farmers and fishermen, and while small-scale logging or roof thatching brings an income to some, hard currency is tough to come by in the jungle. Costs associated with taking a family member to a hospital can easily exceed the annual income of a family or even an entire village. While the situation is indeed dire, there is hope. Combating this complicated problem is a small number of dedicated international NGOs who transport teams of doctors and medical supplies into the jungle on hospital boats to provide free clinics supplying basic healthcare to those in need. Since 2008 I have worked closely with one of these dedicated NGOs, a joint Peruvian / US non-profit organization named Project Amazonas. These photographs are a chronicle of my time spent on Project Amazonas medical expeditions as well as further explorations of healthcare in the Peruvian Amazon through my work with the NGO AidJoy. My hope is that these images shed some light on this complex and important issue and inspire you to take action in the form of donating some of your time, money, or expertise to an important charity such as Project Amazonas (www.projectamazonas.org Feel free to contact me for more info). Learn the story behind each photograph by clicking the “captions” link located below any image.