Jun 15, 2021

Bringing Comfort and Safety to Guatemalan Births

Sra. Irma and her heathy baby.
Sra. Irma and her heathy baby.

Here in Guatemala, the pandemic continues to pose a serious threat to both individuals and the health care sector. Only about 3% of the population has received any vaccination and less than 1% is fully vaccinated. Thankfully, our Maternal Mobile Health Program continues to overcome barriers and provide life-saving care to mothers and infants. 

Our midwives, who are trained local Mayans, meet patients where they are at, socially, culturally and importantly physically. They travel to expecting mothers to lead them through home births when possible, and when not, arrange for transport to local hospitals, where our navigators help guide them through the healthcare system. 

This program serves several communities and many women. One recent patient was  23-year-old Doña Irma, who had had a bad experience in the hospital delivering her first child and was planning on delivering her second at home. A midwife attending her at her home noted that Doña Irma was not in labor although she was past 40 weeks pregnant and her water had already broken. The midwife communicated with our emergency team, who coordinated a plan to get Doña Irma to a local hospital for a safer delivery. 

Despite severe rain, we were able to safely transport Doña Irma to the hospital along with one of our navigators. Doña Irma mostly speaks the Mayan language Kaqchikel, which complicates healthcare for her as most Guatemalan doctors only use Spanish. Luckily, navigators from the Maternal Mobile Health Program were there to translate and advocate. 

 Ultimately, Doña Irma avoided a C-section and other complications, and gave birth to a healthy baby. Doña's Irma’s two hospital birthing experiences stand in sharp contrast. With her first child, Doña Irma was in the hospital alone, struggled to communicate with doctors, and felt scared. The second time around, she felt supported, comforted, and was able to better advocate for herself with our navigators’ help. 

Apr 14, 2021

Progress on the frontlines fighting malnutrition!

getting vaccinated
getting vaccinated

We are thrilled to share that thanks to the hard work of our Medical Director, Waleska López Canu, every member of the Wuqu’ Kawoq team has had their first Covid vaccination! She worked tirelessly with the Ministry of Health to make this happen so that we can continue our work in the field at full strength. Our next priority is getting our patients in rural Guatemala vaccinated. During our nutrition visits, we offer information about the importance of vaccines and address any of our patients’ concerns about safety to make sure they’re ready once vaccines become more widely available. 

We’re also excited to share the launch of our new study, Saqmolo’ (“egg” in the Mayan language Kaqchiquel). We are contributing to global research investigating impact of adding a daily serving of eggs to standard nutrition care. The results in other settings have been mixed. For example, in Malawi, the egg intervention had no overall effect on child development. This study will provide new evidence to help make future nutrition interventions as effective as possible.

These important developments, along with your support, help strengthen our work to reverse the course of the many children struggling with acute malnutrition in rural Guatemala.

Pictured below is Fátima, who became an orphan at 11 months when her mother, who was raising her alone, died from complications of diabetes, a condition that she could not afford to treat. Fátima is now under the care of her aunt, Doña Manuela, who also has an 18-month-old daughter. As a result of her mother’s illness and death, Fátima is severely undernourished, but she’s getting better. We have been working with Doña Manuela to space out breast feedings and supplement her own nutrition so that she is able to feed both girls and raise them as healthy sisters.

We are so grateful to you for making this work possible! 



Feb 19, 2021

Supporting Safe Births in Guatemala During COVID

Despite the many obstacles arising during the pandemic, the midwives and navigators in our maternal mobile health program have continued to make house visits to expectant mothers and help them access hospital services when necessary.

Mothers like Doña Rosa, 42, who late into her pregnancy experienced high blood pressure, blurred vision, and headaches. Her midwife had been monitoring her symptoms using our mobile health app and noted that her condition was worsening. She urged her to go to the hospital to check for preeclampsia, which can cause serious problems for both the mother and baby.

Concerned that she would be stopped at one of the COVID barricades in the journey across four communities, Doña Rosa was reluctant to leave home. She agreed to make the trip only after our care navigator offered to accompany her and help negotiate the many barriers.

After a long journey, Doña Rosa delivered her child at the hospital through a cesarean section due to complications from preeclampsia. Throughout, the navigator helped Doña Rosa, who speaks Kaqchikel, communicate in Spanish with the doctors.

When the doctors pressed Doña Rosa to undergo sterilization, the navigator advocated on behalf of her patient, who declined the procedure.

Doña Rosa is now home with her baby and doing well; her blood pressure is under control. From time to time, she calls the maternal mobile health program to express her gratitude. She tells them she saw death flash before her, but now she is ok.

In the Tecpán region where we have piloted our program, maternal deaths among the hundreds of mothers we serve have dropped from eight in 2016, to four in 2017, to zero in 2018, 2019, and 2020.


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