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Oct 18, 2018

The importance of well-informed decisions

Luis gives a talk at La Vega (Mazatenango)
Luis gives a talk at La Vega (Mazatenango)

A few weeks ago, field educator Luis offered an educational talk about contraceptive methods in a small community in Santa Lucía Cotzumalguapa (department of Escuintla). After the talk, two women approached him. One of them was Karen, a 27-year-old woman who heard WINGS was going to be in her community, and she came just to show her gratitude to us. Months ago, she attended a WINGS clinic where she got a subdermal hormonal implant, and not only she was now able to space her pregnancies – the implant gave her regular menstruation.

The other woman’s name was Yulissa, a 22-year-old with two children who got her subdermal hormonal implant at the health center of her community. She was worried because she suffered constant bleeding and, when she came back to the health center, they did not assist her. She arrived to the talk to get further information about the implant and she told Luis no one explained her most of the things he mentioned. After making sure it was a normal side effect, Luis asked Yulissa for her phone number in order to receive a follow-up call from WINGS.

We are pleased to see that our patients are satisfied with our work and their choice. For WINGS, the practical implementation of rights-based care means that we treat every patient in a non-judgmental, non-coercive manner that provides ample education for each individual to make well-informed decisions.  

Each patient receives comprehensive information about available contraceptive methods before they choose which one is right for them and can opt out at any moment if they change their minds. This is important in a context where not everyone has been informed of their rights in past medical treatments or other facets of their lives.

Oct 18, 2018

We continue reaching the unreachable

Field Supervisor Dominga teaching in Chahal
Field Supervisor Dominga teaching in Chahal

At the end of September, WINGS organized a cervical cancer screening clinic in Chahal (department of Alta Verapaz), a Mayan Q’eqchi’ community where 86.71% of the population does not have access to electricity.*

The health post was very grateful for WINGS’ offer to provide free screenings in Chahal, as several barriers exist in the community for women to access reproductive health services. In fact, only the 9.68% of the economically active population are women,* which means most of them do not have the economic power to access health services. Moreover, the community is difficult to reach, as there is only a several-mile dirt road from the nearest village. Even though WINGS’ mobile units are prepared to handle these roads, local transportation is almost nonexistent and it is very unlikely for a woman to be able to travel on her own.

Thanks to WINGS’ visit, 7 women received a cervical cancer screening. This number may sound small, but it becomes bigger after learning that most of the women heard about cervical cancer for the first time during their screening with us. We are very proud of our medical team’s ability to provide comprehensive information about reproductive health in a community where illiteracy affects the 42% of the population.*

WINGS provides rights-based, patient-centered services, which means we treat every patient in a non-judgmental, non-coercive manner that provides ample education for each individual to make well-informed decisions. Each person receives comprehensive information about available contraceptive methods before they choose which one is right for them and can opt out at any moment if they change their minds. This is important in a context where not everyone has been informed of their rights in past medical treatments or they have not receive any treatments at all.

As part of our commitment to rights-based care, WINGS trains all our employees on not only technical aspects of care provision but on the communication skills needed to provide the highest level of care while respecting the patients’ rights. We hold quarterly trainings with our field staff to ensure that all levels of intervention are based wholly on respecting a patient’s rights to choose freely and responsibly how to experience their reproductive health.

 

* Source: Guatemalan Secretariat for Planning and Programming of the Presidency (SEGEPLAN), 2009.

Aug 13, 2018

Getting screened for the first time

Nurse Senayda explains how the screening is done
Nurse Senayda explains how the screening is done

As the Medical Director for WINGS Guatemala, I am proud to present last year’s cervical cancer prevention results, which you can now check in our recently published 2017 Annual Report. In 2017 alone, we screened 3,345 women, we detected 135 positive cases, and we were able to treat 84 of them using cryotherapy.

As you may know, we use visual inspection with acetic acid (VIA) to detect precancerous cells, an effective and simple method that allows us to deliver immediate results and treat some of the abnormalities straightaway. The VIA technique is recommended for women between the ages of 25 and 50, as this method may diagnose false positives in patients out of that age range. Last year, 872 women chose WINGS to get a cervical cancer screening for the first time. This means 26% of the women we examined had not been screened before the age of 25.

All women should begin to get cervical cancer screenings upon initiating sexual activity. However, according to the Guatemalan Ministry of Health, only 3.7% of women between 15 and 19 years has ever had a pap smear. This percentage increases to 24.8% in the age range between 20 and 24 years, and to 52.9% in ages 25-29, but it does not reach 70% until the age of 35. We find this data exceedingly worrying, as the average age of Guatemalan women’s first sexual intercourse is 15 (Ministry of Health, 2015).

WINGS offers free cervical cancer screenings in all our contraception and surgery clinics. We counsel our patients on the importance of taking care of themselves and how getting examined is part of that self-care. It takes a lot of courage to decide to have a cervical cancer screening if you have never done it before. Some of our patients hesitate to get screened, because they are afraid we might find abnormalities and that they might be too late to treat. It fills our hearts with joy every time a woman decides to take the plunge and have a VIA for the first time. This step is certainly essential to ensure their good health and peace of mind.

Thank you very much for supporting these brave women.

 
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