Healthy, Happy Babies! We have been working nonstop to transform the future, one baby at a time!
The reality that Guatemala has the highest level of childhood malnutrition in this hemisphere, 4th in the world is shocking and horrifying. At this moment, so many babies do not have adequate nutrition to grow and thrive, leaving the children stunted, or short short in stature for their age. This translates into children who appear to be 5 but are actually 7 or 8 years old.
You can see our exciting malnutrition program at work by empowered women in our communities!
It is not the short stature specifically that we are worried about, it is the fact that the loss of these inches directly correlates to lower IQ, it means slower development and missing milestones as an infant and toddler, milestones that I look for in my own daughters ages 4 and 1. Malnourished children will be slower to walk, slower to talk and to read. They will have difficulty focusing in school resulting in a much lower life long income earning potential. These children will never reach the potential that so many of us take for granted in our own children. But there is incredible Hope and Success!
With your help and support, we at Maya Health Alliance - Wuqu' Kawoq, have created a mobile primary health care system that saves lives through excellence and quality. Our nutrition program places baby and mom as critical actors to changing the future of Guatemala. Our Child Nutrition program provides universal nutritional and micronutrient supplementation to all children from 6 months of age onward and to all pregnant and lactating women. We also focus on educating child caregivers about breastfeeding, complementary foods, common childhood illnesses, hygiene and clean water through our community-based nutrition education classes. Additionally, the foundation for all of our nutrition programs is the provision of good primary care for children. Children with complex needs are immediately referred to our surgical or special needs programs.
We have helped over 2000 children this year and educated 500 mothers on Nutrition and Women's Health topics. I wanted to share these very exciting successes with you.
See our nutrition research here!
We are working to #EndMalnutrition and #GrowGuatemala to transform the future of Guatemala. Thank you for your continued support of our work.
With gratitude, Anne Kraemer Diaz Executive Director
We often hear about Impact, but do we really know what it means?
Impact is important yet difficult to measure, and it can be even more difficult to really see. We are thrilled to bring you Gustavo, a baby boy who is growing and thriving because of donors like you!
In December, when Gustavo was almost 3 months old, he was malnourished and not growing at all. His mother was doing everything she could by nursing him, purchasing formula when she could and giving him all the love possible, but it wasn't enough.
Mom could not produce enough milk to help Gustavo grow and formula costs were so high for this poor family. When she came to us, Gustavo was at his birth weight, even though he was almost 3 months old. We knew action had to happen quickly in order to save him!
We began an intensive nutrition and education intervention. First, we learned about mom and her situation during a home visit. We learned that she had the most heart wrenching situation, she has lost a baby 2 years earlier in a similar situation as Gustavo. We quickly started Gustavo on the path to health with nutritional supplementation, education for the family, and close oversight from our team. Your partnership with us enabled our team to find this baby and provide him with education and initial life saving treatment.
We also partnered with our friends at Watsi who helped us to fund Gustavo’s continued life saving care as he is not from one of our primary health care commnuities. Overall, we excited to link donors and organiations together to save lives! We are extremely thrilled with Gustavo's growth and beautiful smiles!
Thank you for saving a life today! I look forward to bringing you more success stories soon!
We have launched a new intervention to aggressively intervene with home visits for severely malnourished children.
As usual, we weigh and measure all the children under five years of age in our communities. We then chart the children’s growth on World Health Organization curves for height and weight. When a child’s growth appears alarming, we then try to figure out what’s going on and how to fix it.
Remember, stunting is diagnosed when a child is short for their age. When you see stunted children, they look like healthy, plump little kids until you realize that they are really short and look about 6 months younger than they should appear. Guatemala has one of the highest rates of stunting in world and the highest rate in the Western Hemisphere.
Does it Matter is someone is a bit shorter?
You may think, “Does it matter if someone is a bit shorter?” Well, after fifty years of follow-up, the INCAP Nutrition Study has found that, as they grow up, children who were stunted have decreased school performance, reduced cognitive skills, higher probability of living in poverty, and some significantly worse health-related outcomes such as number of pregnancies in women. Think of this: A child whose height improves by one standard deviation at age three (e.g., going from from the 0.1 percentile to the 2.5 percentile) will earn on average 20% more money per year as an adult and will be 10% less likely to be poor.
The New Intervention: In Home, One-on-One education and Food Supplementation
In this new intervention, we identify the kids under age two that are “severely falling off their growth curves.” We then make a visit to their homes, speak with their family, and conduct a medical work-up. We work to rule out things like hypothyroidism, congenital diseases, and parasites, and if children do have these–or any other–conditions we treat them. We send them for laboratory testing, imaging, and even surgery if they need it. We also give the child deworming medication and vitamins. We also focus heavily on one-on-one education with the family and mother on how to provide the best food and nutrition for their child.
We are particularly sensitive to the time when the child turns six months old, as this is the window when complementary foods should be given in addition to breastfeeding. Due to both economic considerations and education, many mothers delay the onset of complementary feeding or give foods that are very low in nutrients. Often, we see that children are growing just fine until they reach 6 months of age, at which point they basically stop growing.
In the “small picture,” the intervention is exciting because we think we can really influence the individual children in our care. We will evaluate this new program as we move forward and report back to you.
Our Harvard medical student David working with the program says, “I must also confess that I love visiting these children. They are so fragile, so small, so innocent. They have so much more living to do, but their future is at stake. Thankfully, we have some tools to help. I can’t think of anything that could be more worthwhile.”
Thank you friends for your amazing support. Together, we are saving lives and creating better futures!
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.
This is just a really quick note to let you know about two things.
First, as I talked about in our last project report, data from some of our communities is in and very encouraging, showing 50% reductions in rates of malnutrition. To follow up on this, I wanted to let you know that we've just released the final report of our study of factors associated with malnutrition. We are using the data in this study to make small changes to our programs, especially in the area of parent education, in order to achieve even better results. If you are interested, you can read the entire report at this link here.
Furthermore, I wanted to let you know that Global Giving is having a Matching Funds Campaign on June 12. Because we are a "Superstar" ranked organization, this means that all donations to any of our projects on June 12 will be matched 50%! You can see the list of all of our current projects here. Pass the link on to your friends and colleagues!
Thanks as always for your amazing support and interest in our work.
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