Chile: Public Health, Traditional Medicine, and Community Empowerment

Gain unique insight into healthcare policies, politics, and delivery as well as traditional medicinal practices in Chile

offered by SIT Study Abroad

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Please visit our website for more information. Based in Chile's northern-most city of Arica, students in the SIT Public Health, Traditional Medicine, and Community Empowerment program examine theoretical and existing approaches to healthcare delivery in diverse communities across Chile, including in urban and rural areas. Through interdisciplinary coursework, field study, and meaningful site visits to public health centers, students scrutinize both "modern" and traditional medicine practices and delivery methods. Gaining global perspectives from Arica From the program base in Arica, students enjoy excellent access to health centers and hospitals, learning from academics, practitioners, and community experts in both Arica and the greater region. Arica is home to a multitude of ethnic communities including Chinese, Afro-American, Italian, Spanish, and indigenous groups; students discover that, despite these communities’ shared locality, extraordinary differences in culture and health practices exist. Given Arica’s strategic location on the border of Peru and Bolivia, students are able to examine healthcare from unique international perspectives. Students learn about cross-border initiatives and transnational coordination of health policy on topics such as infectious disease management, HIV/AIDS, and tuberculosis.  Exposure to multiple sources of knowledge Students in the Chile: Public Health, Traditional Medicine, and Community Empowerment program learn from and engage with: Faculty members at the Universidad de Tarapacá Medical health professionals National and local government health officials Intercultural medicine practitioners including herbalists Local university students in both urban and rural settings Health centers where traditional medicine is practiced Close interaction with academic, professional, and community experts allows students to develop a comprehensive, up-close understanding of health and community welfare in the Chilean context. Public Health Research Methods and Ethics Through the program's Public Health Research Methods and Ethics course, students receive instruction in research methods in both the social and health sciences. Students learn how to collect, analyze, integrate, and report social and public health data to understand and assess public health and intercultural issues. Field studies may include designing a research project; writing a research proposal; interviewing; conducting surveys; and maintaining a field journal. Specific public health field study methods could include concepts and objectives of scientific research, basic techniques used in public health research, data collection and analysis, epidemiology and considerations in the Chilean context, ethical issues related to public health projects and research, and the World Learning/SIT Human Subjects Review Policy. Through this course, students frequently observe and participate in community health projects. The course also serves as an introduction to the Independent Study Project.  Independent Study Project Conducted in Arica, Santiago, Valparaiso, Temuco, or other approved locations in Chile appropriate to the project, the Independent Study Project offers students the opportunity to conduct field research on a topic of their choice within the program’s thematic parameters. The project integrates learning from the various components of the program and culminates in a final presentation and formal research paper. Students may choose to incorporate a guided practicum experience into the project as well. Sample topic areas include: Women’s health Community outreach Drug and alcohol treatment Traditional and intercultural health Chilean health policy AIDS treatment promotion and prevention policies Indigenous health practices Epidemiology


  • Public Health
  • Development Studies
  • Sociology
  • Social Sciences
  • Spanish


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