On Friday, April 27, Master’s International student, Julie Erickson, successfully defended her thesis entitled Decentralization and Hospital Governance in Rural Paraguay. Julie served as a municipal development volunteer for Peace Corps in Paraguay between 2008 and 2011. Her experience as a Peace Corps volunteer inspired her thesis topic on the challenges facing hospital governance in rural Paraguay.
For her research, Julie interviewed members of two local health councils in distinct rural towns to gain insight on member understanding of council functions and their perceptions of their role as council member. She used data gathered from these interviews, coupled with data gathered from an analysis of council documents, to compare current council practices against the expectations outlined in Paraguayan law. She focused her analysis on three areas of governance: civic participation, accountability and transparency. Key findings included a weak system of downward accountability within the council and a lack of economic and human resources available to the council to effectively carry out their responsibilities, as outlined by the central government. Julie plans to present her findings at the first annual National Peace Corps Association Conference in Minneapolis this summer.