Norwegian Centre for Rural Medicine (NCRM) has been working with the Colombian partners Universidad de la Sabana & Universidad del Tolima in the health collaboration “Rural Health for Peace”, financed by the Ministry of Health and Care Services, since 2018.

One of the activities in this collaboration is a new diploma course for community leaders in two rural municipalities; the “Introductory course for the training of community managers in health care in rural areas.

Within the framework of the Rural Health for Peace in Colombia, on March 25th and 26th, the closing ceremony of the course was held in the municipalities of Chaparral and Icononzo in the department of Tolima, located in the center-west of Colombia.

The ceremony was attended by Dr. Héctor Raúl Aguiar, Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences and Professor Cristina Lombo of the nursing program of the University of Tolima, and by the University of La Sabana, Dr. Francisco Lamus, professor of the Faculty of Medicine on behalf of Dr. Alvaro Romero, Dean of the faculty and Rosa Margarita Durán, professor of the Master’s Degree in Public Health. The mayor of the municipality of Chaparral, Mr. Hugo Fernando Arce and the director of health, Eucaris Arcila, participated from the local government; in Icononzo we were accompanied by Paola Villamil – director of local health affairs.

22 community leaders from rural areas were certified and participated in the face-to-face and independent work sessions held between July and November 2021, the workshops were led by the University of La Sabana and the University of Tolima with the support of The Norwegian Centre for Rural Medicine, UiT-  the Arctic University of Norway.

These community leaders will serve as a liaison between health services and the community.  Further, as we are embarking on a new research project financed by the Colombian government, the community leaders will be a support to achieve the participation of the inhabitants of the areas where we will be doing research.

The objective of the new research project is to try to characterize the determinants of territorial inequities to health, to look at the gap between access to health in rural and urban Colombia and hopefully look at ways and methods to close this gap.