Quality Health Care in a Beautiful Setting: Part One
Carmen Barroso, Regional Director
Suriname is a little known but fascinating country. Located north of the Brazilian Amazon region, the country spans just 63,000 square miles but contains a wealth of diversity: Suriname is home to just over half a million residents who speak 25 languages and practice nearly all of the world’s religions. Intermarriage among different ethnicities is so frequent that it is usually difficult to trace someone’s ancestors. Culinary traditions brought by immigrants from India, Indonesia, China and Africa are preserved and merged, producing delicious results.
I am here as part of the IPPF team that came for the accreditation we conduct with our 38 Member Associations every five years. Founded in 1968, Stichting Lobi is widely respected as the main provider of family planning and cervical cancer prevention, and is also a leader on HIV prevention and comprehensive sexuality education. It has an interesting name: Stichting Lobi, or “Love Foundation.”
When I get to the building that houses their offices and main clinic, I am in for a surprise. I find a unique architectural structure unlike what I have ever seen in any other part of the world: The round iron main door is like a sculpture, and inside, the tilted walls and windows might remind one of Gehry’s buildings with a bolder color palate. High ceilings and wall openings provide constant breeze and relief in this tropical setting. The waiting room easily accommodates a large group, but the efficient flow of clients ensures that nobody has to wait more than a half-hour–an important aspect of quality care.
Glenn Leckie, the Executive Director, assures me that he kept construction costs down by careful choice of materials and savvy negotiations with contractors. (By the way, Glenn is the embodiment of multiculturalism: his grandparents are from China, India, Africa and native Surinamese origins. And he got his PhD in Holland.)
Built about a decade ago, the building is very well maintained, and its unique appearance sends the message that all clients are treated with the respect and dignity they deserve.