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A young Peruvian girl at a schoolhouse turned medical and dental clinic. She is standing behind a registered nurse participating with Hope Alliance.

Good Medicine
U of U healers provide hope and help through the Global Health Alliance.

Text and images by Joel Addams

Participants in the Hope Alliance/University of Utah Global Health Alliance project
Participants in the Hope Alliance/University of Utah Global Health Alliance project in Santa Cecilia, Peru, March 2007 (L-R): Dan Jackson, pediatric gastroenterologist from Primary Children’s Medical Center and a faculty member at the U of U; Anne Owen, an American nurse not affiliated with the U; “Jorge,” a local health promoter in Santa Cecilia, off the Amazon River; and David Morton, assistant professor of neurobiology and anatomy at the U of U School of Medicine.

I could not believe that I recognized the girl. About 12 years old, she smiled widely as we emerged out of the Amazon forest and approached her family’s thatched-roof home.

Last year, she and her mother had come to us at the local schoolhouse on the Tahuayo River, a tributary accessible only from Peru’s Amazon River. For the last five years, a group of us from the University of Utah—physicians, faculty, medical and nursing students—have been pairing up with the local nonprofit organization Hope Alliance, working to improve health care in the Iquitos region of Peru. When I first met the girl, our small team from the University had seen more than 200 individuals in two days.

But here she was again, one year later. She quickly turned and went yelling for her mother. As with all of the villagers in Santa Cecilia, the girl’s family was kind and invited us onto the porch of their home-on-stilts.

This year was different, though: we were coming to the residents of Iquitos—with questions. The nursing students had prepared a detailed questionnaire about the community’s sanitation practices, and maternity, nutrition, and basic living issues. We needed answers before setting up programs with their local health worker, the most effective way of reaching the hundreds of scattered families along the Tahuayo.

Peruvian Girl
The girl mentioned in the story, San Pedro, Tahuayo River. She was examined in 2006 when University of Utah medical students and volunteer physicians first visited the village in collaboration with the Hope Alliance. The groups followed up the next year with a community health assessment.

The villagers were happy to participate. In exchange for their kindness, we answered questions they had about their health, and examined both children and parents. A Polaroid picture of each family both delighted the children and provided a low-cost “thank you.”

Our entire medical team was there as part of the University of Utah Global Health Alliance (UUGHA), U of U Health Sciences’ international arm, co-founded by DeVon C. Hale BS’65 MD’69, assistant dean of international medical education for the School of Medicine, in 2002. The UUGHA, a cooperative effort between the U’s Public Health program and International Health at the School of Medicine, is committed to long-term, sustainable health care mainly by promoting public health programs in countries such as Ghana, Kenya, Thailand, Peru, Ecuador, and China, for example, with upcoming programs planned for other countries including India. With all of its international projects, the UUGHA helps health care workers, local physicians and nurses, and government employees in these countries build a health care system that functions on its own.

During my time in Peru in 2007, I managed to take numerous photos. The images here document slices of life along the Tahuayo River, and the efforts of the U’s medical teams to improve the health of Peruvians in this remote part of the world.

To donate to the UUGHA fund, contact Steve Warner at (801) 585-7010 or

Alex and Oscar
Peruvians “Alex” (rear) and “Oscar” (forward) help out at the pharmacy in Santa Cecilia. They served as both guides and translators for the Hope Alliance/UUGHA medical and dental staff.
Peruvian Mother
A Peruvian mother with her child in San Pedro. The mother and her family participated in a community health assessment compiled by University of Utah nursing students, assisted by medical faculty and students, the Hope Alliance, and community doctor and nurse volunteers. The mother holds one of the Polaroid photos given to families as a token of appreciation for their help.
Dr. Rojas
Dr. Rojas, a Peruvian doctor from the Lima area, examines a young girl in her village on the Tahuayo. Rojas works with the Hope Alliance and the University of Utah Global Health Alliance.

óJoel Addams BA’02 ( is a third-year medical student at the U and has photographed professionally for the past five years. He donates 10 percent of his international fine arts sales to the Global Health Alliance’s Future Endowment.

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