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.
Sep 9, 2013

Improving diet diversity through education

Nutrition focus group in session
Nutrition focus group in session

Dear friends, as I've written to you frequently over the last few years, we've been working hard to complement the core activities of this program, which include medical care and nutritional supplementation, with additional educational and support activities for mothers and fathers of young children. 

Although education can't solve all problems, it is an important part of a comprehensive solution. For example, in a report we recently published (see the link below), we discovered that many parents struggled to understand the manifestations of chronic malnutrition in their children and, therefore, tended to present late for medical evaluation. Similarly, although most parents understood the need to feed their toddlers complementary foods starting at 6 months of age, they were less likely to appreciate the importance of meal frequency and a diverse range of food groups for their children's health. 

Therefore, this year, our health promotion staff have launched an exciting range of new educational activities, which include dynamic small group classes and also individualized home visits. We've seen really positive changes in health behaviors and knowledge as a result. For example, when we tested parents knowledge before and after their participation, we discovered that, before participation, only 45% of parents felt well prepared to care for children with an episode of acute diarrhea. After participation, that number increased to 71%. As another example, before participation, only 52% of parents had a good sense of how frequently a young child should consume solid foods; after participation, this number increased to 81%. 

Most importantly, our staff have been conducting followup evaluations of dietary quality in the children of participants. We are seeing that, after participations, children are consuming more food and more diverse foods as a result of their parents' new knowledge!

In conjunction with our ongoing medical care programs, growth monitoring, and nutritional supplement, we are really excited to see the additional accrued benefit of education to our communities as these programs continue to unfold this year. 

House based nutrition visit
House based nutrition visit
Individualized nutrition assessment
Individualized nutrition assessment


Sep 9, 2013

Health for all Women

Women's education class in session

Even though our work with women's health in Guatemala began with our efforts to support midwives and expand services for women during pregnancy and delivery, we recognize that this is not enough. Focusing only on the needs of women during pregnancy - or during their reproductive years - has the unfortunate side effect of neglecting the health care needs that women have across the age spectrum. 

This is why, while continuing our programs focused on improving the quality of pregnancy care, we've also been broadening our initiatives. Over the last two years, in particular, we've worked hard to augment cervical cancer screening in all the communities where our midwives work and live. This has been a tremendously well-received and much-needed initiative. As a result of the screening activities, we've picked up a number of new cervical cancer cases, which have required immediate treatment. Fortunately, at the same time that we've been developing the capacity of our community health workers to conduct screening activities, we've also been strengthening our network for cancer treatment. As a result, we are able to provide comprehensive cervical cancer treatment to any patients who are picked up during screening.

Another important benefit of the new screening programs has been the increased detection of sexually transmitted infections. Common sexually transmitted infections, especially chlamydia and gonorrhea, are very prevalent in rural Guatemala, and they are not usually diagnosed, leading to sometimes severe health problems down the road. Our cervical cancer screening staff have been also trained in the management of these conditions, and they are able to use the cervical cancer screening encounter also as an opportunity to increase detection and awareness of these other problems.

Thanks for your ongoing support of our work! 


Sep 9, 2013

Improving peer support for diabetes

Dear Friends, this has been a really busy week for the diabetes program. 

In previous months, I've hinted to you about the new educational initiative for diabetes patients that we are rolling out. Education, as you might expect, is a huge part of any diabetes program. Over the years, we've developed a number of educational materials for our patients, and our nurses and community health promoters also provided individualized, one-on-one education during regular home visits to patients and their families. 

However, one big area that has been missing still is the creation of a sense of community among the diabetes patients themselves. For example, as we noted in a recent research publication (see the link below), many diabetics feel alone with their disease. They often also feel stressed by pressures within their own families that prevent them from making good health and dietary choices. To combat this, we are instituting peer support groups for our patients, which will meet regularly and will be facilitated by our health promotion staff. In the United States and other developed countries, this strategy has been very successful at improving patient satisfaction and also disease control, and we are looking forward to seeing what happens with our patients!

To make this program a success, we've brought on a new volunteer, who just arrived in Guatemala and will be working full time on this project over the coming year, helping our local staff get the program up to speed. 

Thanks for your support!


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