In my last report I gave you some updates on our plans for 2013. I'm happy to announce that things are moving forward at a steady pace.
As I let you know in October, a major goal for this project in 2013 will be to expand on our already successful sexual health trainings for women in our partner communities. At the same time, we are also looking at ways to improve our coverage of women's medical care. In our partner communities, we've always provided access to family planning methods, prenatal care, and screening and treatment for cervical cancer. However, the goal for this year is to increase the demand for those services significantly.
To help with this, we've brought on new staff members and new volunteers, including educational specialists and health promoters. We had our first planning meets for the year at the beginning of January, and the enthusiasm and energy on the team is very encouraging!
I'm returning to Guatemala next week to do more staff training and also to plan specific activities for the first half of the year. I'll keep you updated, and I hope to have some new pictures soon!
In the meantime, thanks as always for your support!
As the end of the year draws close, we've been making plans for our midwifery and women's health programs for 2013. This is always an exciting time of the year, because it gives us a chance to reflect back on the accomplishments of the past year and plan for any upcoming new goals.
For example, we've been helping to provide education to lay indigenous midwives in Guatemala for over 5 years now. This model has been very successful and has attracted a lot of attention around the region. As a result, in 2013, we'll be expanding the training to a third town, meaning that midwives will have more options in deciding which training event is closest to their home. We anticipate having around 120 different participating midwives this year. Collectively, these midwives represent 5 different municipalities and cover a population of over 150,000 with obstetrical services.
Another goal for the coming year is continued expansion of our sexual health training curriculum for women. We've learned over the years that most rural indigenous women have very little exposure to basic health education and have no forum in which they can comfortably and safely have their questions about sexual health and family planning addressed. We plan to provide educational sessions to 400 women in 2013. What's more, each participant will have full access to our other health services, including free cervical cancer screening and access to family planning methods.
As always, our work would not be possible without your support! Please consider continuing to support this exciting project in your holiday or year end giving! Don't forget that the Global Giving interface will allow you to donate in honor of a loved one - a great idea for alternative gift giving!
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!
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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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