Shoulder to Shoulder Global Celebrates its 10th Anniversary in Ecuador

Celebrating 10 years of continued success and commitment to the Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas community in Ecuador, the University of Kentucky’s Shoulder to Shoulder Global (STSG) and the Hombro a Hombro Foundation are hosting a health care brigade from May 12 to May 21 at their clinic in Santo Domingo, Ecuador.

The brigade includes students and professional staff who will apply skills and talents developed at UK to aid the Santo Domingo community. In addition, a delegation of UK leaders, including Provost Tim Tracy, college deans and UK administrators, will visit the clinic during the brigade. The delegation also will explore opportunities for collaboration with Ecuadorian partner institutions.

Associate Provost for Internationalization Sue Roberts said she is looking forward to the visit to Ecuador and celebrating the accomplishments of UK's Shoulder to Shoulder program that was founded by UK pediatrician Dr. Thomas Young.

"The 10th anniversary of the Shoulder to Shoulder clinic in Ecuador is a wonderful chance not just to celebrate this longstanding international outreach program and to recognize the achievements of Dr. Young and his colleagues, but also to assess opportunities for building deeper links between UK and Ecuador," Roberts said. "While the UK delegation is in Ecuador, we also will be exploring options for research collaborations and for faculty and student exchanges with our colleagues at universities in Ecuador."

The anniversary celebration at the STSG clinic will include a special dinner with STSG founders, the clinic staff, the UK delegation and Ecuadorian partners, including a representative from the Ecuadorian Ministry of Health, leadership from Fundación Acción Social Cáritas in Ecuador, and the dean of Universidad de Las Americas’ College of Medicine.

"It is so exciting to celebrate 10 years of delivering comprehensive health services in this community in Ecuador,” Young said. “STSG and our Ecuadorian partners have provided thousands of patients with services and learning opportunities for UK students, staff and faculty. We plan to continue to dream big.”

STSG is one of the leading Global Health initiatives at UK, focusing on providing primary care for the Santo Domingo community. Aside from having rotations of health care students and interdisciplinary teams to provide care at the clinic, STSG seeks to improve education, public health, access to safe water and economic opportunities in the region.

In 2002, Young led the first health brigade to Ecuador with a small group of six committed participants. Ten years ago, STSG partnered with the Hombro a Hombro Foundation to open the Centro de Salud Hombro a Hombro, a primary care clinic that serves the community year-round. 

During its 10 years of operation, the clinic has provided more than 58,000 medical consultations and 21,000 dental consultations. The brigades alone have seen approximately 20,000 patients. And now, the health brigades have about 150 participants each year.

The UK International Center will host a Facebook Live event for viewers to experience Ecuador first-hand during the brigade. To join the celebration and learn more about Shoulder to Shoulder Global, visit