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.
Jun 5, 2012

Care for Communities - One Child at a Time

Dear Friends, 

Once again I'm writing to you all to thank you for your ongoing support of our child nutrition and health projects in Guatemala. 

I thought I would take this update opportunity to reflect on something that we haven't talked about in a while. Although we talk about the need to fight the overwhelming rates of child malnutrition in Guatemala frequently, what we haven't mentioned is how poor nutrition is just one of the many health challenges that children in Guatemala face. One of these that we face in our work everyday is the lack of primary care (pediatricians). Not having pediatricians means that children do not receive the normal "well child" check ups that we take for granted in the developed world. Consequently, if a child has a serious medical condition, it may not every be picked up, since there is no one around to pick it up!

To give you an idea about how this plays out, our experience has been that about five percent of all the children we see in a new nutrition program will have a serious medical condition. Even though our "in road" to communities is the nutrition programming, we are also committed to providing comprehensive health care, and so we always do our best to help out those children who need more than just nutrition. 

One case that we are currently managing is quite typical. This is a 1 year old boy with Down's syndrome who was brought to us for the usual reason - "not growing." However, with just a quick physical examination, it was clear that something more was going on. He had a very loud heart murmur and signs of heart failure. We quickly obtained a heart ultrasound, which confirmed that he did indeed have a heart defect that was going to need surgery. Although he was certainly malnourished, the heart defect was really the major reason that he was 'not growing.' 

Fortunately, we have an excellent collaboration with a group of pediatric heart surgeons who can make this happen. Therefore, over the last few months, we have been managing the child's heart failure with medications while he recuperates nutritionally. He should have surgery within the next few weeks and go on to be a much healthier child afterwards!


Apr 29, 2012

Home visits for diabetics

Dear friends, 

We have been running diabetes programs in Guatemala now for nearly 7 years! Over that time, a guiding aspect of our philosophy and approach to patients has been accompaniment and home visits. As you probably know, diabetic patients often have a hard time meeting the strict guidelines set forth for medications, diet, and exercise. This is not a problem unique to Guatemala, of course, but it is especially difficult there, where low levels of education and literacy and high rates of poverty dramatically impact the ability of patients to keep up with their care plans. 

Since the beginning, therefore, we have made a point to try to understand diabetes from the perspective of the patients. This means, quite simply, spending a lot of time with them. For example, one of our nurses regularly reviews the blood sugar results of our diabetic patient panel. Based on these numbers, she is able to identify patients who are having a hard time managing their condition. Subsequently, she sets up home visits, where she is able to spend an entire day with the patient and their family, observing them preparing meals and making suggestions about healthy food choices and portion sizes. In the case of patients who have trouble remembering to take their medications, she also uses these visits as opportunities to identify and implement effective strategies, which often involve enlisting the support of a husband or wife, son or daughter, who can help their loved one with their medications and other needs. 

We are very proud of this unique, individualized approach, which has been successful at improving diabetes control and reinforcing key educational concepts to patients. 

As always, thanks for your ongoing support. As a reminder, GlobalGiving is conducting a special Mother's Day campaign from May 1-13. All donations made to this project (or to our other projects, here or here) "in honor of" a loved one during this time will make us eligible for additional funds! 

Also, if you are interested in signing up for more regular updates on our work in Guatemala, click here.


Apr 26, 2012

Improving health care for women

Dear friends, thanks for your continued support of our work with women and midwives in Guatemala! So far 2012 has been a busy year. Training classes for midwives continue on track. Furthermore, women's health classes are being offered by our staff in multiple locations. As I mentioned in the last project update, some of our nursing staff recently received additional training in IUD insertion and in the management of other forms of contraception.

I wanted to use this project update to focus on this last issue for a few moments. In communities where we have medical programs, it is not uncommon for 70-80% of women to have no regular access to family planning methods. Serial pregnancies are a big problem for our participants, because they result in depletion of women's energy and health. Furthermore, they place enormous financial strain on families, who find themselves unable to provide sufficient food to their many children. For these reasons, providing access to high quality family planning services is an important step in breaking the cycle of poverty.

We have found that our engagement with women of all ages through health classes, as well as providing health care to pregnant women and their newly born babies, has created great opportunities to introduce family planning resources. This has been very successful. Participants are very appreciative, and uptake of various planning methods has been rapid. In one community, for example, we have noticed that the pregnancy rate has fallen about 75% over the last two years!

As always, thanks for your ongoing support. As a reminder, GlobalGiving is conducting a special Mother's Day campaign from May 1-13. All donations made to this project (or to our other projects, here or here) "in honor of" a loved one during this time will make us eligible for additional funds! 

Also, if you are interested in signing up for more regular updates on our work in Guatemala, click here.


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