David Gaus

Andean Health and Development
Year founded: 

Andean Health and Development is transforming rural health at the community level in Latin America by providing high quality medical care and training for future rural healthcare leaders.

Focus: Health
Geographic Area of Impact: Ecuador
Model: Hybrid Non-Profit
Number of Direct Beneficiaries: 20,000 (2010)
Annual Budget: US$ 557,700 (2010)
Percentage Earned Revenue: 62%
Recognition: Regional Social Entrepreneur of the Year, Latin America, 2010

Rural populations in Ecuador face a range of challenges in attaining high quality healthcare, including limited access to specialized and hospital-based care. While the reach of basic primary care has broadened in the developing world, allowing for quick and inexpensive treatment of common illnesses, the treatment of infectious diseases still represents a critical gap in healthcare services. Often, the nearest hospitals for rural populations are hours away in major cities, forcing sick villagers to overcome geographic, economic and cultural barriers to access quality treatment. These barriers often make the treatment of infectious diseases difficult. Pregnant women and children in rural communities still die at alarming rates, from the complications of infectious diseases that can be easily treated in specialized clinics and hospitals in urban communities across the developed world.

Innovation and Activities
AHD raises the standard of care at community hospitals by utilizing the best medical and administrative practices available, and by focusing on the community. It is integral to AHD`s strategy to be community based, so it focuses on serving the community members while also employing local staff.

AHD’s approach to rural health is based upon providing a high standard of care to patients by educating young doctors and nurses to be effective leaders. The training component of AHD’s work involves comprehensive education of the best medical and administrative practices for medical residents and nursing students. These programmes are conducted in partnership with the Catholic University of Ecuador’s Medical School and the Luis Vargas Torres University Nursing School. Professionals in training follow the comprehensive AHD Manual, which differentiates AHD doctors and nurses from those working in the traditional public health sector, where formal residency training is not required. Physicians are usually hired directly from medical school with little or no hands-on experience.

The hospitals provide 24-hour care and use technology to streamline processes, i.e. Pedro Vicente Maldonado Hospital in north-west Ecuador relies 100% on electronic medical records.

AHD’s hospitals are financially sustainable, supported entirely by efficient use of local funds through a public-private partnership with the country’s Social Security Administration.

The Entrepreneur
Dr David Gaus received a BA in Accounting in 1984 from Notre Dame University. After an impressive conversation with then University President Theodore M. Hesburgh, he travelled to Ecuador and volunteered for two years at The Working Boys' Center. There he observed the marginalization of a population of mostly women and children who, he later learned, lacked access to even basic health services. When he returned to the US, Gaus re-enrolled at Notre Dame to complete his pre-med studies, and then earned an MD and Master’s in Public Health and Tropical Medicine from Tulane University. In 1994 he and Friar Hesburgh founded ADH, where he has served as Executive Director ever since. He is concurrently serving as Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Wisconsin.