By Jason Lee
Hospital Los Ángeles (中巴佛光康寧醫院) in Ciudad del Este, Paraguay, was established in 2003 by the Taiwanese Buddhist organization Foguang Shan (佛光山), also known as the Buddha’s Light International Association (BLIA 2016). The Paraguay chapter of BLIA, officially known as the Fundación Para La Salud Los Ángeles Paraguay-China (巴拉圭華人慈善基金會), continues to support the hospital along with other funders.
Buddhism has in recent decades become increasingly influential in Latin America (Rocha 2017). The establishment of the hospital was part of the BLIA’s coordinated effort to bring Taiwanese humanistic Buddhism or Renjian Fojiao (人間佛教) focused on health care to Latin America (Reinke 2021). Founded in 1967 by Dharma Master Hsing Yun (星雲), Foguang Shan is one of the largest Buddhist organizations promoting humanistic Buddhism. As a modernized form of Buddhism, humanistic Buddhism emphasizes the importance of applying Buddhist teachings to everyday acts of service. Headquartered in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, Foguang Shan currently operates over 300 branches worldwide, ten of which are in Latin America.
Paraguay is one of the poorest countries in Latin America, with an estimated 23.5% of Paraguayans living below the national poverty line in 2019 (World Bank 2019). As the second-largest city in Paraguay, Ciudad del Este is located close to the “Triple Frontier” region that borders Brazil and Argentina. Situated in the outskirts of Ciudad del Este, Hospital Los Ángeles’s original goal was to provide free medical services to people with limited economic resources, especially those who lived in the nearby areas of Alto Paraná and Canindeyú (ADN Político 2018).
Nowadays, the hospital is specifically focused on treating pregnant women and children. By 2018, Hospital Los Ángeles had delivered more than 43,000 live births and provided free healthcare to over 71,000 maternal and pediatric patients (ADN Político 2018). In addition to providing services in obstetrics/gynecology and pediatrics, the hospital and the foundation are also involved in medical charity work such as through donations of neonatal monitoring equipment to other regional hospitals in Ciudad del Este (CDE HOT 2019). According to the hospital, Los Ángeles has one of the lowest maternal mortality rates in the region (ADN Político 2018).
A short film titled “Silent Valley – Ciudad Del Este, Paraguay” that features a BLIA officer describing the services offered at Hospital Los Ángeles. Source: BLIA YouTube Channel
- Reinke, Jens. 2021. Mapping Modern Mahayana: Chinese Buddhism and Migration in the Age of Global Modernity. Berlin: De Gruyter Oldenbourg.
- Rocha, Cristina. 2017 “Buddhism in Latin America.” In The Oxford Handbook of Contemporary Buddhism, edited by Michael Jerryson, 299–315. New York: Oxford University Press.
- Rocha, Cristina. 2005. Zen in Brazil: The Quest for Cosmopolitan Modernity (Topics in Contemporary Buddhism). Honolulu, HI: University of Hawaii Press
- “Hospital Los Angeles – Ciudad Del Este, Paraguay” Buddha’s Light International Association, 2016. http://blia.org/ngo-1/child-and-women/south-america/117-hospital-los-angeles-%E2%80%93-ciudad-del-este,-paraguay
- “Los Angeles Foundation donates Multiparametric monitors to Franco and Ciudad del Este” CDE HOT, 2019. https://www.cdehot.com.py/noticia/ciudad-del-este/fundacion-los-angeles-dona-monitores-multiparametricos-a-franco-y-cde
- “Los Angeles Hospital, with more than 43 thousand births in 15 years” ADN Politico, 2018. https://www.adndigital.com.py/hospital-los-angeles-mas-43-mil-nacimientos-15-anos/