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Aug 3, 2018

Contraception access for Fuego Volcano victims

WINGS mobile unit on its way to the shelters
WINGS mobile unit on its way to the shelters

June and July have been particularly challenging months in Guatemala. Fuego Volcano erupted on June 3 and buried entire communities in the department of Escuintla. According to official data, the death toll has reached 161. However, it is very difficult to determine the real number of deaths, as Guatemala has not had a census since 2002. According to the National Statistics Institute (INE), there were 2,345 people registered in the buried communities (1,535 people in El Rodeo and 810 people in San Miguel Los Lotes). Conversely, the National Civil Registry (RENAP) states there are 4,295 adults registered in El Rodeo and 397 adults in San Miguel Los Lotes, but it is unknown whether they were still living there.

Due to the danger and uncertainly caused by the volcanic eruption, WINGS had to cancel the clinics scheduled in the affected areas, as the hospitals were attending injured people and the health centers and clinics were partially destroyed. Nevertheless, WINGS continued doing what we do best: take supplies directly to those in need. As an immediate response, WINGS started bringing short-term contraception to the shelters, as well as basic hygiene and rescue goods. These visits allowed us to identify suitable strategies to provide long-acting reversible contraception (LARC).

WINGS’ first LARC clinic after the disaster in one of the areas adjacent to the volcano was overwhelmingly successful. Our medical team attended 27 patients in Osuna, Escuintla. We are proud of how quickly and efficiently we were able to detect and respond to needs as they arose. We continue to work hard to assure Guatemalans’ right to access contraceptive information and services regardless of this natural disaster and ongoing crisis.

Nurse Alexia provides contraception in a shelter
Nurse Alexia provides contraception in a shelter
May 16, 2018


We are very pleased to present the initial results of our most recent campaign aimed at raising awareness for Guatemalan women to have cervical cancer screening. After seeing incredible engagement with our Guatemalans followers on Facebook, we launched the campaign #haztelaprueba (#getscreened) in March to encourage women to get screened regularly. We finished the campaign on May 10 and can proudly say it was resounding success: our Facebook posts reached more than 26,000 Guatemalans!

After every announcement we posted, we received several private messages asking questions regarding the procedure: “How does it work?”, “Do I get the results the same day?”, “Can I get cryotherapy treatment?”, or even “Is it really necessary that I get screened?” People wrote from different areas (Sacatepéquez, Quiché, Baja Verapaz and Guatemala City) and we successfully referred them to upcoming clinics or other resources in their communities.

We believe part of the success of this awareness campaign was talking about cervical cancer prevention while simultaneously addressing other subjects. The focus of the campaign was to show a vast diversity of uteruses (as shown in the picture) to let women know that they should get screened regardless of their medical record, sexual practices or personal situation. We tackled topics such as LGBT, teenage pregnancy, and indigenous culture, amongst others.

Approximately 1,500 Guatemalan women are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year, and some groups are significantly more vulnerable to it. In fact, indigenous and rural territories are more likely to have restricted access to health services than urban areas, and homosexual and bisexual women get less routine sexual health care, even though they can also be exposed to HPV and cervical cancer.

The overwhelming response to this campaign shows the need to provide trustworthy information about cervical cancer prevention, as well as the need to pay particular attention to groups that may be more at risk of not being diagnosed on time.

In 2018 alone, we aim to provide 3,700 cervical cancer screenings, and thanks to your support, we know we are on the right path!

May 7, 2018

Patient-Centered, Rights-Based Care

Youth client learns about contraceptive methods
Youth client learns about contraceptive methods

The past few years have been filled with strategic changes for WINGS, all with the aim of streamlining services to further our reach while becoming more cost-effective. Our expertise in both service provision and reproductive rights education is well-known throughout the country. By focusing on patient-centered, rights-based care, WINGS has positioned itself as the provider of choice for many women and men in Guatemala. Stories shared with us during clinics or promotional talks make it clear that people are talking positively about WINGS and referring friends and family to our services.

Internally, we continue to put rights-based practices at the very core of everything we do. Our Board of Directors and staff have ongoing conversations and training sessions about how we can best uphold rights-based care principals and improve our care for all our clients.

WINGS is working toward becoming a leader in rights-based care in Central America. We are guided by best-practice and global experts, including Family Planning 2020 (FP 2020), a global partnership that supports the rights of women and girls to decide, freely, and for themselves, whether, when, and how many children they want to have.

FP 2020 asserts that “rights-based family planning turns the focus to the rights of individuals and couples to decide freely and responsibly the number and spacing of children with quality sexual/reproductive health information and services to do so without facing discrimination or inequality.”

For WINGS, the practical implementation of rights-based care means that we treat every client in a non-judgmental, non-coercive manner that provides ample education for each individual to make well-informed decisions. You can see this in various aspects of our service provision process.

We provide a Youth-Friendly Space within our clinic to attend anyone age 19 or under. This space is staffed by our Youth Program team who are trained and skilled at communicating with youth who then provide a ‘warm hand-off’ to our clinical staff if the youth decides to get a contraceptive method. We offer all services for free to anyone under age 19.

Our clinical team uses techniques to protect privacy and invite clients to ask honest questions before, during, and after any clinical intervention. Each client 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 we know that not everyone has been informed that vasectomies and tubal ligations are permanent procedures, for example.

As we continue to learn and improve our service delivery, we hope you will partner with us. Your support allows us work towards a future where all Guatemalans thrive and are able to fully exercise their sexual and reproductive rights.

WINGS Board learns more about rights-based care
WINGS Board learns more about rights-based care
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