Action for Health in the Americas


Action for Health in the Americas (AHA) is the North American counterpart of Educación Popular En Salud (EPES) based in Chile. EPES has been supporting sustainable community-based public health initiatives among the poor in Chile since 1982.

We believe in the power of people to promote their own healthy communities, given the proper financial, educational and technical support.

The May 2017 EPES Update and Celebrating 35 Years…

Check out the full EPES Update here!

Message from the AHA President

Dear friends of EPES and AHA,

EPES is far from resting on its laurels in 2017, the 35th anniversary of its founding as a project of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Chile (IELCH).

Already this year they have delivered the eighth International Course on Popular Education in Health, (fondly referred to as la Escuela), bringing the total number of trainees since 2010 to 150 (from 19 countries). Talk about ripple effect—that has to be a major splash! The impact of the Escuela has been particularly strong in Kenya, where the Hope Foundation for African Women is replicating the EPES model after founder Grace Mose attended the Escuela in 2010 (followed by fiveothers in 2014).

Also in this Update, you can learn about EPES’ continuing activities in emergency response and advocacy for a tobacco-free Chile, as well as about an exciting healthy schools program that emerged from a 2016 EPES workshop, just to mention a few.

Finally, I draw your attention to the announcement of a benefit concert to mark EPES’ 35 years and thank the wonderful donors and supporters who have made it all possible. If you are anywhere near the Twin Cities on September 23, I hope you will join us in celebrating this remarkable journey we have been on together. If you can’t be there physically, we will hold you in our hearts with gratitude for all you have done to help EPES fulfil its mission to contribute to health, dignity and justice for the people of Chile.

In gratitude for your continuing solidarity,
Christina Mills MD FRCPC
President, Action for Health in the Americas

Update on the worst fires in Chilean history

Dear Friends of EPES and AHA,

Thank you for your words of support and concern about the devastating fires in Chile. As of yesterday, the government informed that there are 148 fires reported: 64 have been controlled, 75 actively being fought and 9 have been extinguished. There are 6,162 people whose homes have been affected by the fires and 1,151 completely destroyed. Tragically, eleven people have been killed : two firefighters, two police, three brigadistas and four civilians.

EPES has been working with communities in Penco to protect their homes and we have been developing a long-term project that we are submitting to ACT Churches Acting Together to try to develop a community based prevention program in both Cerro Las Cañas in Valparaiso and in Penco.

Below is a letter written by Lautaro a few days ago (translated to English) that I think helps explain the origins of the fire and what needs to be done in the future.  I am attaching some of the photos our staff in Concepción took when they were visiting Penco.

Gracias for your ongoing support,


Karen Anderson

fires in Concepcion 4Lautaro - fires in concepcion  fires in concepcion 2 fires in concepcion 1

Dear Friends of EPES,

Once again Chile is affected by a tragedy of environmental and human origins. This latest disaster that affects Chileans can be traced to serious problems associated to climate change, the voracity of forestry companies and the lack of local, regional and central governmental planning.

At present, seven regions (Coquimbo, Valparaiso, Metropolitan, O’Higgins, Maule, Biobio and Araucania) are affected by intense forest fires that have destroyed residential areas. The National Forestry Service has confirmed that 893,436 acres, consisting of 56 fires now under control, 65 still being fought and one that was extinguished. Locally, in Concepción, 10,131 acres have burned, with the worst damage affecting the rural area of Florida, where small villages have been destroyed.

Several factors are responsible for this tragedy. First of all, climate-related situations such as unusually high temperatures this summer season, low humidity and windy conditions have played a role here. Secondly, factors of human origin also play a part: powerful forestry corporations’ extensive plantations of Oregon pine and eucalyptus, both of which are highly combustible trees, that are planted close to residential areas without firebreaks, as well as the drought, which is exacerbated by these fast-growing tree plantations. In addition, the fires have been intense due to the shortage of material and human resources to adequately fight the advancing flames.

Once the fires come under control, the measures that must be taken to prevent the repetition of this tragedy are clear and key: distance the forestry plantations from residential areas, regulate plantation distribution and location; reforest with native trees, place water storage reserves in remote places, allocate adequate technical and human resources, fire prevention education for the population, and strengthen centralized coordination of resources to deploy in emergencies.

In Concepción the major areas affected by the fires have been Palomares, Tomé (the rural zone), Florida (rural and urban zones), Chaimávida, Penco (La Greda district of Villa Montahue), Chiguayante, Hualqui, Quilacoya, and Talcamávida.

EPES has ample experience in managing emergency situations. During the earthquake and subsequent tsunami of February 2010, EPES implemented a wide-ranging community support program in Penco. Now the same people who had settled into new houses after losing everything seven years were threatened by another disaster. But, all the neighbors came together – creating firebreaks, cutting trees and hosing down the area – and saved their community.

The entire area of Penco is surrounded by plantations of highly inflammable eucalyptus trees. So far our support consists of providing them with face masks and water, which are priorities at this time. We will continue to support the community’s organization and health to ensure safer conditions and prevention on the medium and long term.

Dr. Lautaro López Stefoni

Coordinator EPES Concepción Center

January 27, 2017

The December 2016 EPES Update is here!

Just released – the December 2016 EPES Update! While EPES has undertaken many activities and advocacy efforts this past year, this Update specifically highlights EPES’ impressive work in dec2016updatecoverfighting the emerging obesity epidemic in Chile. This work ranges from healthy nutrition workshops to train women in the El Bosque community of Santiago as local nutritional health promoters to international advocacy and presentations at the World Nutrition Congress.

As always, AHA and EPES are incredibly grateful for the support of our North American friends. If you would like to make a donation this holiday season so that EPES’ work in nutrition and so many other areas can continue in 2017, you may do so online or by sending a check made out to “Action for Health in the Americas” to:
Action For Heath in the Americas
4 Northcrest Drive
Clifton Park, NY 12065

We wish you a joyful Christmas and a happy, healthy and peaceful New Year!

ELCA Delegation Led by Bishop Elizabeth Eaton Visits EPES

This past weekend, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s (ELCA) Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton visited EPES and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Chile (IELCH). She was accompanied by the Executive Director of Global Mission, Rev. Dr. Rafael Malpica, and the Director for Latin America and the Carribbean, Rev. Dr. Raquel Rodriquez.

ELCA DelegationEPES was honored to have them visit and be able to thank the ELCA for their long-term support of EPES. Read more about the visit here!


#ChileTuesday is back – Join us!

chiletuesday-2016-bannerHappy November AHA and EPES supporters!

We’re so excited to share with you that our 2nd annual #ChileTuesday campaign is back!

Now through Giving Tuesday (Nov. 29), we invite you to fundraise or donate to EPES in the spirit of giving.

We promise, fundraising is easier than you think. We’ve designed a fundraising page and emails for you. All you have to do is sign up and send your page link to your family and friends. The ChileTuesday 2016 Fundraiser Guide includes step-by-step instructions to get started.

Start fundraising today!



#ChileTuesday will fund training for Chilean women, healthcare workers and grassroots activists to become health leaders in their families, their communities and beyond.

Together we can bring health, dignity and justice to the people of Chile. Please help us make this campaign a success by signing up today!


EPES Update May 2016: In-depth Focus on the Escuela Internacional

AHA is exMay2016UpdateCovercited to share this May’s EPES Update, a special edition that highlights the Escuela Internacional: EPES’ International Training Course that brings together participants from different countries with the common goal of leveraging EPES’ decades of participatory and community-based Escuela2016Mapmethodologies to empower the participants to bring those practices home. This past January, EPES hosted its 7th annual Escuela, bringing the total number of participants to 130 and countries represented to 18. For all of you who have supported EPES through donations over the past several years, you have helped make this all possible. Thank you again for your support and AHA hopes to continue to partner with you to ensure the Escuela Internacional and all of EPES’ other programming can continue well into the future. We hope that you’ll consider donating online using our secure form. AHA also accepts mailed donations via the address listed on our home page. ¡Muchas gracias!




ChileTuesday? What about Chile for New Years?

We are so proud of our team – we have raised $35,714 for our #ChileTuesday campaign. That is 119% of our goal and yet we’re still working. If you are looking for a last great action for 2015 or a first great action for 2016 – we invite you to help us bust the roof of our goals – donate to #ChileTuesday.

The pictures below help to tell the story…

The EPES December 2015 Update is here!

EPES Update December 2015

Dear Friends of EPES and AHA:

We hope you like the new format of the EPES Update! This version is more streamlined and has fewer “pieces” for you to keep track of—allowing you to focus on the amazing accomplishments and ongoing efforts of EPES and, hopefully, reminding you of how far your donations can go.

This past year has highlighted how valuable EPES’ work can be:

  • Leveraging their community-level disaster response and recovery capacity to work with victims of the September 2015 earthquake and tsunami—even while rebuilding from the April 2014 fire that devastated the poorest neighborhoods of Valparaíso continues.
  • Planning for the seventh International Training Course on Participatory and Community Strategies for Health—which will be held in January. Interest and participation in this annual course continue to grow every year. In the first six courses, there have been 110 participants from 15 countries. EPES’ training model is being replicated in many places in Latin America and all the way to Kenya!
  • Becoming a strong voice in Chile for health as a human right and mobilizing many organizations, communities and individuals to fight for this right.

In 2015, AHA has also sought to revamp our role as EPES’ advocates in North America. You’ll read about the exciting new #ChileTuesday campaign in this Update, but we’re also working to improve our website and provide more updates electronically—please share your email address with us if you haven’t done so already (either by noting it on the mailed donation form or when you make an online donation). We welcome your ideas for how AHA can continue to be a strong voice for EPES in 2016 and beyond!

As always, muchas gracias for your ongoing commitment to the work of EPES. In this world where there is so much suffering and need, we know that there are demands on your compassion (and pocketbook). Have a happy holiday season and a healthy and peaceful New Year!

Christina Mills MD FRCPC

President, Action for Health in the Americas

Click here to read about all the great work EPES has been up to in 2015!

Join our #ChileTuesday Campaign!

#ChileTuesday Banner

Dear Friend of AHA and EPES,

We have Thanksgiving for giving thanks. We have Black Friday for getting deals. Now, we have #GivingTuesday for giving back.

This December 1st, help Educación Popular en Salud (EPES) turn #GivingTuesday into #ChileTuesday by supporting their programs to help women and their families through collective action on health, social and environmental issues.

Our Goal: 2X the Impact

A generous donor has offered to match every donation up to $30,000 through December 1st. Every dollar you raise or donate to EPES will be doubled!

If we reach our goal, EPES will receive $60,000—that’s enough to train 12,000 community health leaders in low-income communities throughout Chile.

Get Involved!

Join our #ChileTuesday campaign by creating a personal fundraising page to support EPES and the people of Chile.

Create your fundraising page now >

Get creative with your fundraising efforts and host a Chilean wine tasting or dinner party! Grab a few bottles, invite your closest friends and ask for a small contribution towards your fundraising goal.

Here’s how to get started:

1. Choose a fundraising page title, such as “Alex’s #ChileTuesday Fundraiser”.
2. Add your picture and customize the description text.
3. Share with family and friends via email and your social media!

No time for an event? Simply reach out to your friends and family and tell them why community health programs in Chile are important to you, and watch the support roll in!

Alternatively, you can donate directly to the campaign > 

All donations are tax deductible, and thanks to our generous match, every gift up to our $30,000 goal will be doubled.

Together we can bring health, dignity and justice to the people of Chile!

If you have questions, please respond to this email and we will happily help.

Thank you so much for your continued support!

Christina Mills MD FRCPC
President, Action for Health in the Americas

Karen Anderson
Founder, Educación Popular en Salud

EPES’ Post-Earthquake Efforts

Hello friends of AHA and EPES! As we’ve been updating our website, we seem to have lost our two most recent posts about the work EPES was doing with recovery from the September 2015 earthquake and tsunami that impacted Chile. You can view the letter from Dr. Lautaro Lopez, two reports, and photos below!

September 18th Earthquake Report

September 24 Earthquake Report

Surveying impact in Tongoy 2015-09-16 Earthquake Monica interviewing Roxanna Coquimbo coastal region


September 17, 2015

Dear Friends of EPES,

I write to express immense gratitude for the scores of messages of solidarity that began reaching us immediately, minutes after last night´s earthquake, as well as the offers to help us respond collectively to the latest disaster to affect Chile.  Yesterday was such a terrible day; when the earth began to move, at once everyone remembered the devastating earthquake of 2010 that impacted much of our country. Last night’s earthquake was the world’s worst so far this year, reaching 8.4 on the Richter scale. It is reported to be one of the 30 largest earthquakes ever to strike anywhere in the world. Chile also holds another unfortunate record with the earthquake/tsunami of 1960 in the southern region that surpassed 9 on the Richter scale.

In light of the extensive suffering, fear and stress these events have produce – even though we are the world’s most seismic country we never get used to earthquakes – I would like to share with you what we have been doing. Today we began a process to assess with greater precision the urgent needs of northern Chile, while also identifying and communicating with interfaith networks of the zone with whom we can coordinate and develop an initial work plan.

Initially, I contacted all institutional members of the ACT Alliance Forum, comprised of interfaith groups that responded to the earthquake/tsunami of 2010 in the central-southern region. Unfortunately, I only achieved a partial response, probably due to Chile’s Independence Day festivities and long holiday weekend now upon us.

Subsequently, I persisted in communicating with other agencies experienced in emergency work, specifically the Methodist Humanitarian Assistance Team of the Methodist Church of Chile (EMAH Chile). Next week, together with the other ACT member organizations we will develop a work proposal to enable us to support the most affected zone. We will explore the possibility of working with two organizations with which we have worked in past emergency situations, namely, EMAH Chile and CEDM (Diego de Medellin Ecumenical Center). With these two groups we hope to design a project employing the psychosocial community-based support strategy in the recovery and prevention phases in the most devastated area (Choapa Province).

In addition, Karen Anderson has spoken to IELCH Bishop Izani Brunch who expressed interest in joining EPES and ACT efforts. The EPES staff has proposed contributing initial funds for conducting an on-site assessment. A community health promoter trained by EPES with experience from our work in Valparaiso after the fire as well as post disaster work will coordinate the assessment. A key player will be former EPES health promoter  now living in Tongoy, one of the most affected coast communities. The assessment will be conducted with women who had modest work stands and lost everything in yesterday’s tsunami. On the basis of their assessment, EPES will develop a proposal to present to ELCA and other possible funding sources.

Lastly, on behalf of the EPES staff, we wish to express our most heartfelt thanks to all our friends as well as the solidarity institutions that give of their time, concern and have decided to provide support in this situation. Your efforts will help overcome the material and psychosocial damage affecting our communities, especially the most vulnerable members of society.


Dr. Lautaro Lopez

EPES Concepcion and ACT Chile