Wuqu' Kawoq

Wuqu' Kawoq's mission is to address the barriers to excellent health care that the majority of Guatemala's indigenous Maya population face, including principally the lack of access to health care in their own languages. As such, Wuqu' Kawoq develops primary care and health programs within a larger context of community vitality, family stability,and Mayan language revitalization.
Jan 26, 2012

Expanding treatment options for diabetics

Dear friends, 

Over the last few months since I last wrote a project update for our diabetes program, a lot of great things have happened!

As you know, for a number of years now we have focused on educational initiatives for our diabetic patients, coupled with intensive glucose-lowering strategies. One of the most rewarding parts of this initiative has been using glycosylated hemoglobin testing ("A1C" testing) to give us a better sense of how are patients are doing and how their medications should be adjusted. Using A1C as a target for treatment, about 50% of our patients now achieve a level of glucose control that we think is "excellent", with another 25% achieving acceptable control (of course, with the other 25% still needing some work!

Now, in the last few months, we have been working to identify other areas where we can improve care for our diabetic patients. For example, since people with diabetes have a higher-than-average risk of heart disease, blood pressure control is very important. Although we have always treated high blood pressure in our diabetics, we are now being more aggressive in treating patients with more borderline high blood pressure readings, to reduce their risk of complications even further. This has been very successful, with more than 75% of our diabetics now reaching our goal for blood pressure control.

Finally, we have begun monitoring kidney function in our patients more aggressively. Long standing diabetes does permanent damage to the kidneys, and kidney disease in diabetes is a major cause of death and complications. Knowing whether a patient has kidney disease is tricky, because it means taking blood samples, often in very rural settings, and transporting them to a central laboratory for analysis. However, thanks to several highly motivated staff members, we have been able to begin offering this service to our patients! Fortunately, only 10% of our patients have significant kidney disease; knowing this information, however, allows us to tailor our treatment for them in ways that better help to protect their kidneys.  

Well, those are the updates for now! Thanks so much for your continued support!

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Jan 24, 2012

Graduating New Midwives!

Dear friends, 

There are so many updates on our midwife and women's health programs that I am not sure where to begin!

First of all, I am writing this right now in the airport on the way to Guatemala, in part to attend a graduation ceremony for the classes of midwives that we are supporting. For a number of years, we have supported a midwifery cooperative of some 100 midwives, who get together for training sessions and professional development. However, three years ago, we added a new training track especially for young women interested in getting into the profession for the first time. Over the past thre years they have participated in formal classroom and clinical activities - and they will be graduating this week! This is a major accomplishment for the cooperative, and we are proud to have played a small role. I will make sure to post some photos from the ceremony later on!

In other news, this week is also important because our women's health nursing staff are receiving training from a volunteer gynecologist visiting from the United States. Already, our women's health nurses are providing a wide range of medical services to women, including cervical cancer screening and access to birth control methods. This week, they will be learning how to insert intrauterine devices (IUDs), which will be a major boost to our family planning programs. At the same time, they will be learning to use basic laboratory technology to diagnosis common sexually transmitted infections, such as gonorrhea and chlamydia. This technology will allow them to immediately identify women infected with these disease and provide on the spot treatment. 

Finally, our women's sexual health classes continue to be a big hit. Currently, we are offering simultaneous classes in four different communities (where we also have other projects, such as child nutrition programs). In 2012, our goal is to provide these classes to at least 250 new women, and we will keep you updated on progress towards that goal!

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Jan 24, 2012

Construction Part 1 is wrapping up, on to Part 2!

Dear friends, we are so excited about the continuing progress on this clinical facility! We have been now seeing patients in the newly constructed clinic building for a few months, and our staff and patients are all delighted to have such a spacious, well-lighted, and well-ventilated structure to work in! Things are still a bit 'rustic,' as we are still working on getting all the doors and windows in place, wiring in the electricity, etc. However, even in this state, it is still such a great improvement over our previous clinical facility!

Over the last few weeks, we finally got running water up and working reliably, which was yet another major step forward! I am attaching a few pictures of our construction team digging in the water line, to give you a sense of this process. 

Since we anticipate that all the finishing work on this first clinic building will be done in the next month or so, we are now starting to move into fundraising for the second phase of this project! In the second phase, we will build another building adjacent to the first one. However unlike the first building, which is used just for seeing patients, the second building will be an open classroom and multipurpose space, where we can hold training sessions for health workers and educational classes for members of the community. It will also house office space for our social work staff. 

Stay tuned for updates from us regularly on how this second phase is progressing. As always we appreciate your continued support, and we hope that you will stay with us as we move forward!

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