Grant Montgomery Travelogue: FEDES strengthening Chile’s medical infrastructure
FEDES also works to improve the medical sector, and in recent years has brought to Chile well in advance of 40 million dollars’ worth of medical equipment, supplies, and wheelchairs from the States, all of which are distributed to needy hospitals and individuals in different municipalities, coordinated with local officials.
During our tour of the south of the country, we encountered the Chilean city of Los Angeles, where the first ambulance ever donated from a California firm was placed, and is still in operation. Prior to that, there was no ambulance serving this entire community.
To anyone in a first world country, who takes modern medical facilities for granted, it is hard to describe the impact of this equipment in communities that have been without. Since most of this equipment is donated, it’s mainly just a matter of FEDES needing to raise the operational and shipping costs: $1500 can import a 40-foot container of wheelchairs, or $6500 for a 40-foot container of medical equipment (with all extra space crammed with walkers, crutches, and canes).
FEDES has the capacity to bring in and distribute 20 such containers of medical equipment and supplies a year, the volume only hindered by their ability to raise the shipping and handling costs. So it was good news indeed when a long-sought meeting with the heads of municipalities of all Santiago was scheduled to take place. There was a great interest from all of these communities as far as pitching in the cash to cover the cost to get shipments of wheelchairs, walkers, crutches, canes, and so forth to their constituents.