Jonathan's visit to El Guabo - P3: The Medical Centre
The tallest man in Ecuador reports back from where your bananas are grown. At All Good we don't just slap a Fairtrade sticker on our bananas, we make a point of going out to see our growers in El Guabo and bringing their stories back to you. This year it was Jonathan our operations manager who got to take the trip of a lifetime - after spending so much time making sure our bananas got safely from Ecuador to NZ he deserved to see the other side of the operation!
July 9th 2014
The medical centre is in a blank building in El Guabo which is a former apartment block. It employs Maria who is a respiratory specialist, a nurse/receptionist, and another doctor who works the afternoon/evening shift voluntarily after his morning shift at Machala hospital is finished.
The Clinic is open from 6am to 8pm and sees up to 45 patients per day. The centre is free for members of the El Guabo Co-op and their families, and all the medication is solely funded by the Fairtrade Premium. As I mentioned previously, the average wage in El Guabo is a little over $300 US per month. To see another doctor would cost $40 plus medication costs.
El Guabo, Machala and other Banana Producing regions in Ecuador have upwards of 4x the background rate respiratory illness - asthma most commonly. There is no official recognition by the health boards or government and therefore no available funding to treat this.
Fairtrade makes up only around 2% of local banana production, and therefore has not made a significant impact on overall environmental conditions. At Porto Bolivar there were 700,000 boxes of bananas leaving each day from Machala for the 5 days we were there, plus an additional 1,500,000 boxes leaving from Guayaquil each day (just to give you and idea of the scale). Since Fairtrade bans the use of over 120 chemicals commonly used in banana production, wider adoption of Fairtrade growing techniques would mean healthier people and a healthier environment.