Prevent and Detect Cervical Cancer in Guatemala

by WINGS
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Prevent and Detect Cervical Cancer in Guatemala
Prevent and Detect Cervical Cancer in Guatemala
Prevent and Detect Cervical Cancer in Guatemala
Prevent and Detect Cervical Cancer in Guatemala
Prevent and Detect Cervical Cancer in Guatemala
Prevent and Detect Cervical Cancer in Guatemala
Prevent and Detect Cervical Cancer in Guatemala
Prevent and Detect Cervical Cancer in Guatemala
Prevent and Detect Cervical Cancer in Guatemala
Prevent and Detect Cervical Cancer in Guatemala
Prevent and Detect Cervical Cancer in Guatemala
Prevent and Detect Cervical Cancer in Guatemala
Prevent and Detect Cervical Cancer in Guatemala
Prevent and Detect Cervical Cancer in Guatemala
Prevent and Detect Cervical Cancer in Guatemala
A WINGS jornada en Santa Lucia Cotzumalguapa
A WINGS jornada en Santa Lucia Cotzumalguapa

We have an exciting advancement to share today regarding our efforts to prevent cervical cancer in Guatemalan women.  In partnership with the US-based organization Hands of Healing, WINGS will be bringing a new technology - thermocoagulation - to our patients in 2022! 

Remind me - what is WINGS’ process now?

Cervical cancer is currently the number one cause of cancer-related death in Guatemalan women - and is entirely preventable. To tackle this reality, WINGS incorporates voluntary cancer screenings into our jornadas (or clinic days). When precancerous cells are found during a screening, WINGS’ staff immediately treat the patient using cryotherapy, which destroys abnormal cells. Cryotherapy is reliable and effective; however, it has some limitations. Transitioning fully to thermocoagulation will allow us to provide the best possible experience for our patients. 

Interesting. Why thermocoagulation? 

Thermocoagulation is a process that uses heat instead of extreme cold to destroy precancerous cells discovered during a visual inspection with acetic acid (VIA) screening. This transition has 3 incredible benefits: 

  • Improved availability of treatment Unliked cryotherapy, which requires the WINGS team to carry a heavy liquid nitrogen gas tank, thermocoagulation units are light and chargeable. With thermocoagulation, WINGS’ nurses can carry a unit in their backpack and can treat patients even when they are traveling on foot to our hardest-to-reach communities.
  • Reduced chance of needing to defer treatment With thermocoagulation, we can treat 100 patients with every charge, while each tank of nitrogen gas can only treat a few patients. This means that we never risk detecting precancerous cells and being unable to provide immediate treatment. 
  • Better patient experience Treatment of precancerous cells is intimate and can be uncomfortable for women regardless of their environment. Cryotherapy treatment takes 11 minutes on average while thermocoagulation only takes 2. While neither is painful, we are excited to adopt a faster, equally effective technology.

We are so appreciative of Hands of Healing for enabling this transition to happen, and thank each of you for your continued support. Stay tuned for updates on the roll-out and what we learn along the way!

Wishing you all the best,

Elissa and the entire team at WINGS Guatemala 

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WINGS at work
WINGS at work

We are so grateful to each of our supporters for celebrating our 20th anniversary with us throughout this entire year. We are proud to report that while this year has presented many challenges, WINGS is going strong. In the face of the ongoing pandemic, we continued to complete cervical cancer screenings at every possible opportunity. This year we reached 2,915 individuals, bringing us to a total of 69,191 individuals screened since 2001. 

Our 2021 cervical cancer screening results of 2,915 women screened represents 90% of our projection for 2021. We attribute this departure from our goal to structural restrictions that limited the number of tubal ligations we were able to complete - a procedure normally accompanied by a cervical cancer screening. This was due to the reduced number of hospitals where we could complete these services, as pandemic-related care took priority. We are proud of what we accomplished in 2021 and are confident that we will continue to find creative ways to provide the care our patients need.

In addition to clinical highlights, last year we also launched our first Community Advisory Board, established a legacy giving program, and grew our social media engagement of our Youth Peer Education Program. We did all of this while acting as a national leader in pandemic precaution adherence, as well as welcoming a new Executive Director.

These notable accomplishments in building an ever stronger community of supporters means that we can look forward to providing even more reproductive health services over the next 20 years.

Thank you for being a part of this journey with us,

The entire team at WINGS Guatemala

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Nurse Nely in Santa Lucia Utatlan, Solola
Nurse Nely in Santa Lucia Utatlan, Solola

In the past few weeks at the helm of WINGS, I have had the opportunity to reflect on the incredible work that we have been doing for the past 20 years. As we look to finish up this year, I have specifically been reflecting on WINGS’ goals and practices around diversity, equity and inclusion, something that has always been central to our mission and vision and is only that much more relevant and necessary as we embark on our next 20 years of organizational growth and success.

Knowing that the content of our work pulls on diverse and complex cultural contexts, taboos, and values and requires that patients feel trust and deep respect from our staff, WINGS makes a point of hiring staff from the communities we serve. In 2021, we launched our first Community Advisory Board, ensuring that the voices of our patients, community partners, and program participants are meaningfully reflected in our program design and evaluation. To ensure transparency and accountability, this advisory board has direct communication with staff leadership as well as with our Board of Directors. The person-centered work culture of trust, care, and open dialogue that we have established at WINGS has laid the groundwork for us to now dig into more complex DEI work as a team. This must include both inward and outward focused needs - working, for example, to make our services more accessible to marginalized groups including indigenous communities, the LGBTQIA+ community, and individuals with disabilities, but also looking at how, as a team, we might better listen and understand the diverse representation that exists on our staff, and create hiring and staff development practices that hold space for increased diversity, equity, and inclusion over time.

While the implications of the global COVID-19 pandemic continue to guide our daily routines at WINGS, I am excited to look toward the future, knowing that we are always striving to make our service delivery and our workplace even more inclusive.

We are so grateful to our supporters for making the past 20 years possible and we look forward to sharing with you as we embark on the next 20 years together.

WINGS Promotoras in Alta Verapaz
WINGS Promotoras in Alta Verapaz
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It is with feelings of both gratitude and sadness that I write to inform you that as of August 31, Rodrigo Barillas will step down as Executive Director of WINGS Guatemala. Rodrigo leaves WINGS to assume the position of Executive Director at the newly established Luis von Ahn Foundation, which plans to support community-based organizations working in Guatemala.

We are tremendously grateful for Rodrigo’s leadership, dedication, and service to our mission over the past seven years, and appreciate the strong position in which he leaves our beloved organization. During his tenure, WINGS has experienced significant growth, expanding its presence to over half the country. From pioneering a single mobile clinical unit, WINGS now operates three mobile units, thus becoming the second largest private provider of sexual and reproductive health services in Guatemala. 
 
Looking ahead, the Board has formed a Transition Task Force to oversee the search and transition process for our next Executive Director. We are partnering with an executive search firm to ensure we find the best possible person to lead WINGS into the future. As the search is underway, the Board has selected Eleanor Unsworth, WINGS Program Director, as Interim Executive Director. Eleanor joined WINGS in 2016. As Program Director she is responsible for the administrative supervision of the WINGS field teams, including for our youth programs, promoter network, and clinical services. She has close to 15 years of experience working in reproductive health in both the US and Guatemala. Eleanor graduated from Tufts University with a degree in Community Health and Women’s Studies, and completed a Master’s in Non-Profit Management from Northeastern University. Fully bilingual and with strong ties to Guatemala, we feel she is fully capable of leading us through this transition period. (To learn more about Eleanor, please check out this recent conversation she had with Rodrigo.)
 
Having seen WINGS flourish over the past few years, serving clients in mostly rural areas of Guatemala with efficiency and compassion, and providing excellent clinical services, I hope you feel as confident as the Board does about our future. We are excited about the possibilities that lie ahead and will keep you informed of our progress.

With appreciation on behalf of WINGS Board of Directors.

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Patients get ready for screenings in Alta Verapaz
Patients get ready for screenings in Alta Verapaz

WINGS has provided 66,366 cervical cancer screenings since 2001. Despite COVID-19 restrictions, we provided 1,652 screenings throughout 2020 – only 41% of our original annual projections, but far more than we anticipated while all clinical services were suspended from March 16 through June 11.

WINGS offers cervical cancer screenings in all our clinics, either within our stationary clinics or our mobile unit clinics. We use visual inspection with acetic acid (VIA) for immediate detection of cervical cell abnormalities and same-day treatment using cryotherapy for pre-cancerous cells that may lead to cervical cancer.

In 2021, we aim to provide 3,243 VIA screenings, knowing that many of those screenings will happen in the most rural, hard-to-reach areas of the country. Your support means that we are able to offer this service that we know saves lives. On behalf of our medical providers and the women we serve, thank you!

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Organization Information

WINGS

Location: Antigua, Sacatepequez - Guatemala
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @WINGSGUATEMALA
Project Leader:
Kirsten Taylor
Development Director
Antigua, Sacatapequez Guatemala
$16,663 raised of $22,000 goal
 
332 donations
$5,337 to go
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