Information About: Bolivia
A young nun was so impressed with our work in Peru after receiving care herself, that she advocated that we should have a presence in Bolivia. In 2003, MMI sent the first project team to this country.
In 2005, MMI launched MMI Bolivia under the direction of Francis Perez, an MMI project leader, who grew up in a small Dominican Republic village annually visited by our project teams. Francis saw the work of MMI and wanted to help serve as a translator the next time the group would visit his village. He began to teach himself English in preparation for the team’s return the next year—and the rest is history! MMI Canada continues supporting Francis, Yenny and the Bolivia team. Francis still serves as Director for this region and this program has experienced dramatic growth in the recent years. We would encourage you to go on any project with this great group of people!
- La Guardia
- Los Tajibos
- Puquio, Concepcion
- San Carlos
- San Javier
- San Juan
- Santa Rosa
- Uyuni and Potosi
Projects will be able to meet primary care needs for those in communities we serve. Local physicians visit this community once every month or less.
When general surgery is offered, the surgical component of the project will provide the patients with an opportunity to have access to a surgery in their own community. Patients will be asked to contribute up to $60.00 depending on the case, instead of the normal in-country price of $400.00 or more; the country price and difficulties with travel makes the service impossible to access for most of the people in the area.
Many projects also provide a training opportunity for the locals serving in the medical field. Our doctors and nurses will be lecturing on different topics related to the identified needs of the communities. In the past, these training opportunities have been well received by the medical personnel in the area.
About Los Tajibos
Los Tajibos is a rural, impoverished community located 220 minutes west of Cotoca in the state of Santa Cruz. The inhabitants of this area are clay makers. Families live with the income of one person, which averages out to be $5.00 a day. This is classified as extreme poverty in the region.
Los Tajibos has a health centre, with a physician who comes once a week, but patients struggle to afford the medications or treatment. There is currently no dentist in this community.
702 m (2303 ft.)
Machareti is a very dry and desolate area with poor economic activity. The population is spread throughout many communities making access and availability to healthcare difficult.
Machareti is one of the poorest counties in the state of Chuquisaca. Most of the 21,000 inhabitants spread throughout the main town and other communities make a living through agriculture: cattle and corn.
In Machareti, there is one general practice physician per every 2,700 inhabitants and one dentist for the whole population. The number of preventable diseases is growing considerably. Surgeries are in high demand. Most patients have to travel to Camiri or Villamontes (one hour away) for a surgical consultation which may or may not result in their needed procedure. Due to the high cost of private hospitals, many of the economically less fortunate will lose their life.
Studies provided by the Direction of Health of the Municipality show locals will lose all their teeth between the ages of 35 and 45.
960 m (3149.7 ft.)
About San Carlos
San Carlos is the capital county of the province of Ichilo in the north of the state of Santa Cruz. Most of the 25,000 inhabitants spread throughout the main town and other communities make a living through agriculture: oranges, rice and cocoa. The land is owned by a few families whom the rest of the community work for.
Medical, dental and surgical care are available, but are very limited. Surgery is an invaluable service in the area but the cost is prohibitive for the people. Providing this specialized service will greatly benefit the poor.
According to studies done by the Direction of Health of the Municipality locals have a total loss of their teeth between ages 35 and 45.
320 m (1049 ft.)
About San Javier
San Javier is one of the poorest counties of the state of Santa Cruz. Most of the 20,000 inhabitants spread throughout the main town and other communities make a living through agriculture: cattle, dairy products, wheat, corn, bananas, and cassava. It is also rich in natural gas. The land is owned by a few families and the rest of the people work for them.
In San Javier, there is one general practice physician per every 2,400 inhabitants, two dentists and one OB-GYN for the whole population, and one paediatrician who visits the community twice a week. The number of preventable diseases is growing considerably.
Surgeries are high in demand. Most patients have to travel to Santa Cruz (3 hours away) for a surgical consultation which may or may not result in their needed procedure. Due to the high cost of private hospitals, many of the economically less fortunate will lose their life. The facility in in San Javier is small, but the operating room is equipped with a table, lights, suction machines, Bovies and monitors. There is no Anesthesia Machine available. It is best suited for general surgeries, ENT, OB-GYN, orthopedics, and other procedures.
The hospital staff are great, open, and very willing to learn and teach.
520 m (1,706 ft.)
About San Juan
San Juan is an impoverished community in the state of Santa Cruz located in the lower side of the Yapacani River. Most of the 26,0270 inhabitants spread throughout the main town and other communities make a living through agriculture: rice, cane sugar, and mandarine oranges.
The Yapacani River causes a lot of flooding during the rainy season. There is so much rain that most of communities we serve have been isolated due to the flooding. These waters can cause skin conditions, intestinal infections, and respiratory conditions reducing the villagers ability to work.
334 m (1096 ft.)
About Santa Rosa
Santa Rosa is one of the poorest counties in the state of Santa Cruz. Most of the 2,000 inhabitants spread throughout the main town and other communities make a living through agriculture: oranges, bananas, rice and beans. It is also rich in natural gas. The land is owned by a few families and the rest of the people work for them.
270 m (886 ft.)
Tarija is the capital of the State of Tarija. Most of the 250,000 inhabitants spread throughout the main town and other communities make a living through agriculture: grapes, peaches and garlic. The county is also rich in natural gas and oil. The land is mainly owned by a few families and the rest of the people work for them.
Tarija continues to be one of the neediest states in regards to ophthalmology and optometric services. The number of surgical cases is increasing. One of the busier ophthalmologists in town is only performing 2 to 4 cataract surgeries a month.
1,853 m (6,083 ft.)
3,656 m (11,995 ft)
Bolivia is striving to improve its services in several areas of health and development, including poverty, education, malnutrition, mortality, and life expectancy. More children are being vaccinated and more pregnant women are getting prenatal care and having skilled health practitioners attend their births. Bolivia's income inequality is the highest in Latin America and one of the highest in the world. Public education is developing and educational opportunities are among the most unevenly distributed in Latin America, with girls and indigenous and rural children less likely to be literate or to complete primary school. Bolivia's lack of clean water and basic sanitation, especially in rural areas, contributes to health problems. The economy in Bolivia continues to undergo transitions as the country desperately searches for a more self-sustaining system that will release it from its almost complete dependence on traditional global trade models.
Bolivia, named after independence fighter Simon Bolivar, broke away from Spanish rule in 1825; much of its subsequent history has consisted of a series of nearly 200 coups and counter-coups. Democratic civilian rule was established in 1982. Leaders have faced difficult problems of deep-seated poverty, social unrest, and illegal drug production. In December 2005, Bolivians elected a new leader, Evo Morales as president – by the widest margin of any leader since the restoration of civilian rule in 1982 – after he ran on a promise to change the country’s traditional political class and empower the nation’s poor, indigenous majority. In December 2009, President Morales easily won re-election, and his party took control of the legislative branch of the government, which will allow him to continue his process of change. In October 2011, the country held its first judicial elections to appoint judges to the four highest courts.
Central South America, southwest of Brazil
17 00 S, 65 00 W
Argentina 832 km,
Brazil 3,423 km,
Chile 860 km,
Paraguay 750 km,
Peru 1,075 km
0 km (landlocked)
Varies with altitude; humid and tropical to cold and semi-arid
Rugged Andes Mountains with a highland plateau (Altiplano), hills, lowland plains of the Amazon Basin
Rio Paraguay 90 m
Nevado Sajama 6,542 m
Country Entry Requirements
Travelers must present a passport, which must be valid for at least six months beyond the date of expected departure.
Canadians: Travel visa is not required for stays of less than 30 days. Please check the following website for the most current entry/exit requirements: http://travel.gc.ca/destinations/bolivia
Americans: Travel visa is required at a cost of $135 USD, and is available at Bolivian ports of entry (i.e. airports). Payments must be made in cash. Bolivian tourist visas are valid for five years from the date of issuance and allow the bearer to enter the country three times in a year for a cumulative stay of not more than ninety days. For more information see the US State Department website: http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/country/bolivia.html
Please send a copy of the following to the MMI Canada office:
- Current license
- Current diploma
- CV for MD, DDS, DMD, RN/LN, RPN/LPN, NP, PA, and surgeons
- Surgeons - Surgical privileges list
Once you have been accepted on the project, we will provide our designated travel agent information so that you can arrange your travel in order to coordinate logistics of the team.
Canadian Applicants: Donations for travel are in addition to the Participant Project Donation.
US Applicants: Travel costs are arranged individually and are in addition to the Participant Project Donation.
Santa Cruz International Airport (VVI), Santa Cruz
Lodging and Accommodations
Teams will stay at a local guest house or basic hotel while on the projects in Bolivia.
Meals: Meals are provided by MMI Bolivia staff. Be sure to bring your own re-usable water bottle with a wide mouth for refilling with purified water is supplied.
Voltage: 220 V (transformers and adaptors required)
Currency is the Bolivian boliviano. US Dollars are widely accepted, but local currency is best for small purchases.