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 7, 2012

Improving Education about Nutrition

The focus group team
The focus group team

Dear Friends,

 Our child nutrition programs have always had three basic pillars.

 (1) The provision of nutritional supplements to children, to help prevent malnutrition and provide as a "safety net" in times of food insecurity.

(2) The provision of excellent medical care, to help identify and treat the diseases--both common and rare-- that contribution to child malnutrition.

(3) Education of caregivers and community leaders about child health and nutrition, to help provide communities with the tools they themselves need to be engaged in protecting the health of their children.

Of these three pillars, by far education is the most challenging. This may sound counter-intuitive at first. However, if you think about all the different barriers that exists to a good educational program--such as low rates of literacy, or the inherent resistance there always is to changing infant rearing practices (which are time-honored and passed down from generation to generation in every culture)--then it is becomes easier to understand why educational programs are numerous but quality educational programs (that produce real change at the community level) are few indeed. 

With this mind, I'm happy to report that Wuqu' Kawoq has just finished up the initial stages of a massive program evaluation designed to improve our nutritional education programming. To accomplish this, we assembled a highly skilled team of community health workers, anthropologists, and nutritionists, who spend most of July and August conducting dozens of focus groups and hundreds of interviews with community leaders, parents, and other stakeholders in our communities.

This evaluation was wide-ranging, designed to help us understand better what parents think about the health of their children and the causes of malnutrition. It will also give us deeper inside into dietary diversity, breastfeeding and weaning practices, and competing nutritional messages from other groups (such as companies which market infant foods).

 Right now our team is evaluating the immense amount of data that was collected during this evaluation. Within the next month or two, we will have a formal report from the team which will identify the areas where our current nutrition education programming might be deficient or not exactly in line with the needs of our communities and give us recommendations for improvement. We're very excited about this great opportunity we have to continue to improve our programs so that we can better serve the children of Guatemala!

As always, thanks so much for your continued support, and keep in touch! Feel free to drop me an email at any point at peter@wuqukawoq.org. 

Traveling to communities
Traveling to communities
Interviews in progress
Interviews in progress

Links:

Aug 2, 2012

Individualized care = excellence!

Talking about problems diabetics face in Guatemala
Talking about problems diabetics face in Guatemala

Dear friends,

More than anything, I attribute the success of our diabetes programs to our amazing staff - nurses and health promoters - who every day advocate for patients and make sure that they have all the resources necessary to live healthy lives.

Let me just tell you one story by way of example. Several months ago, we had two new patients come to our diabetic clinic with type 1 diabetes. This is unusual, because the vast majority (99%) of patients that we take care of have type 2 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is the kind of diabetes that develops earlier in life and is much more difficult to control because it requires earlier and more frequent insulin injections. 

These two patients are young women, sisters, in their mid twenties, who were diagnosed with type 1 diabetes as teenagers. However, in the last 10 years since diagnosis, they had never found adequate treatment for their diabetes, mostly because other clinics were uncomfortable dealing with patients with the type 1 diagnosis or because the insulin treatments prescribed were too expensive. 

These barriers, however, were no big deal for our staff. First, since the medications we provide are free of charge (thanks to all of you and your generous support!), we were immediately able to manage that concern. Next, the staff leaped into action, providing intensive in-home nutritional counseling and lifestyle advice to the women over the next two months. They also provided the women with blood sugar testing supplies (again, thanks to your generous support!), which allowed for intensive monitoring and rapid adjustment of insulin doses. The result: after three months, both women have blood sugars that are nearly normal, and they feel better than they have ever felt in the last decade! By controlling their diabetes, we are able not only to make them feel better but also prevent long term damage to their eyes, nerves, and kidneys.  

Recently, some of our staff and patients had the opportunity to host a group of international visitors (see the pictures below). The visitors had the opportunity to learn about the challenges of treating diabetes in Guatemala and how Wuqu' Kawoq is attempting to take care of this problem, one patient at a time!

Visitors chat with diabetes patients and staff
Visitors chat with diabetes patients and staff

Links:

Aug 2, 2012

New birthing center for indigenous women!

 

Wuqu' Kawoq is pleased to announce that one of our partner organizations in women's health, the midwifery cooperative of ACOTCHI (Asociacion de Comadronas Tradicionales de Chimaltenango), recently opened up its own dedicated birthing center in Chiq'a'l/San Juan Comalapa.  Wuqu' Kawoq has been collaborating with ACOTCHI for nearly a decade to support midwife training programs delivered in Kaqchikel, to assist with adult literacy classes, and to hold primary health care clinics.  Our relationships with many of ACOTCHI's midwives have facilitated not only improvement of prenatal care to many Kaqchikel women, but also nutrition and diabetes programming  in several rural communities of the Kaqchikel highlands.
During the inauguration of the new clinic, ACOTCHI's Director, Erika Yax, commented, "It has been very difficult to reach this point.  We began on the ground...no one has ever made sure that midwives have had an adequate or dignified space in which to work.  This is a dream, and it is just the beginning."  
As Wuqu' Kawoq continues to collaborate with ACOTCHI in this beautiful new clinical space, we will contribute to ACOTCHI's admirable efforts in lowering maternal mortality rates and providing high quality prenatal and post-partum care to Kaqchikel women.

Links:

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