Improving the living conditions of indigenous youth -Basic health for people from the Toba Tribe in Paraguay

The overall objective of this initiative was to provide easy access to medical facilities to the members of the Toba Tribe, especially children, as well as to vulnerable families living in Cerrito, Paraguay. The aim of this project was to raise awareness and distribute information within the community regarding the vital importance of regular health checks and health care issues.

In general, Toba tribes are considered a marginalized ethnic group in Paraguay. Many members of the tribes gain their main income from the manufacture of handicrafts made out of straw. They also work in the nearby fields for some ranch owners as daily workers. Before the establishment of the infirmary, the approach of the Toba community in Cerrito has been based on traditional knowledge and natural treatment. They did not have access to any professional medical facilities due to the remoteness of their homestead area and the lack of awareness regarding regular medical checks and modern treatment opportunities.

The main part of the project activities was the construction of an infirmary building in the rural town of Cerrito, which was handed over to the locally operating “Sisters of the Immaculate Conception” after its completion. In order to equip the infirmary basic furniture and equipment were purchased: desks, chairs, shelves, thermometers, weight scale, sterilizer and other basic medical equipment. The neighbouring school, also run by the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, organised various activities like seminars and workshops, to inform the community about the medical services that are going to be implemented. The community members were informed about various health issues and the importance of regular health checks had been highlighted during the discussions. Our partner organisation carried out several activities such as: raffles, dance festivals, handicraft sales. Those events were used as a platform of exchange to disseminate information offered in the infirmary. Furthermore, those events were organised to enhance social interaction and to bring together different social groups. Additional money was raised to spend on medical equipment or drugs for the infirmary.

The new infirmary serves not only the students from the neighbouring elementary school, but the whole community even if they don’t belong to the tribe. There are many poor families living in this rural area who are also welcome to the infirmary to get medical assistance. Direct beneficiaries of this project are 160 children of the Toba tribe attending the elementary school (50% girls). The indirect beneficiaries of the new facility are the members of the Toba tribe who live in the town of Cerrito (about 2,000 inhabitants).

The lack of access to basic medical services is a severe problem among the indigenous tribes that live in the vast Paraguayan Chaco. The project “Basic Health for People from the Toba Tribe” has faced this reality by making basic medical services accessible to four Toba Quom tribes through the installation of a local infirmary that will directly serve about 160 Toba children and their families that live and study in the surroundings of the project location.

The project that was generously funded by the German Pharmacists Aid was implemented in collaboration with the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, based in Asunción (Paraguay’s capital city) and Cerrito. The Sisters run an elementary school in Cerrito (where the infirmary was built) that is located in the middle of this Toba Quom Community. After the completion of this project cooperation has been requested from different and pertinent authorities (Ministry of Public Education, Ministry of Health and the Institute for Indigenous People) in order to assure the sustainable and efficient use of the new facility.

Project Type

Development Project, Health

Project Duration

01/06/2012 to 01/06/2013








German Pharmacists Aid, HOPE'87