Bulletin of the World Health Organization

Promoting the health of marginalized populations in Ecuador through international collaboration and educational innovations

Margot W Parkes, Jerry Spiegel, Jaime Breilh, Fabio Cabarcas, Robert Huish & Annalee Yassi

This paper examines two innovative educational initiatives for the Ecuadorian public health workforce: a Canadian-funded Masters programme in ecosystem approaches to health that focuses on building capacity to manage environmental health risks sustainably; and the training of Ecuadorians at the Latin American School of Medicine in Cuba (known as Escuela Latinoamericana de Medicina in Spanish). We apply a typology for analysing how training programmes address the needs of marginalized populations and build capacity for addressing health determinants. We highlight some ways we can learn from such training programmes with particular regard to lessons, barriers and opportunities for their sustainability at the local, national and international levels and for pursuing similar initiatives in other countries and contexts. We conclude that educational efforts focused on the challenges of marginalization and the determinants of health require explicit attention not only to the knowledge, attitudes and skills of graduates but also on effectively engaging the health settings and systems that will reinforce the establishment and retention of capacity in low- and middle-income settings where this is most needed.