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.
Jun 5, 2012

Care for Communities - One Child at a Time

Dear Friends, 

Once again I'm writing to you all to thank you for your ongoing support of our child nutrition and health projects in Guatemala. 

I thought I would take this update opportunity to reflect on something that we haven't talked about in a while. Although we talk about the need to fight the overwhelming rates of child malnutrition in Guatemala frequently, what we haven't mentioned is how poor nutrition is just one of the many health challenges that children in Guatemala face. One of these that we face in our work everyday is the lack of primary care (pediatricians). Not having pediatricians means that children do not receive the normal "well child" check ups that we take for granted in the developed world. Consequently, if a child has a serious medical condition, it may not every be picked up, since there is no one around to pick it up!

To give you an idea about how this plays out, our experience has been that about five percent of all the children we see in a new nutrition program will have a serious medical condition. Even though our "in road" to communities is the nutrition programming, we are also committed to providing comprehensive health care, and so we always do our best to help out those children who need more than just nutrition. 

One case that we are currently managing is quite typical. This is a 1 year old boy with Down's syndrome who was brought to us for the usual reason - "not growing." However, with just a quick physical examination, it was clear that something more was going on. He had a very loud heart murmur and signs of heart failure. We quickly obtained a heart ultrasound, which confirmed that he did indeed have a heart defect that was going to need surgery. Although he was certainly malnourished, the heart defect was really the major reason that he was 'not growing.' 

Fortunately, we have an excellent collaboration with a group of pediatric heart surgeons who can make this happen. Therefore, over the last few months, we have been managing the child's heart failure with medications while he recuperates nutritionally. He should have surgery within the next few weeks and go on to be a much healthier child afterwards!

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Apr 16, 2012

Phase 2 of Construction Under Way!

Dear Friends: 

Thanks to the generosity of your donations, we have now been working and seeing patients in the first completed clinic building for several months! This has been such a major boon to our clinical work, as the well-lit and ventilated space allows for much more accurate and comfortable patient assessment in the tropical heat. We finally have reliable electricity and water installed as well, so things are operating at 100% capacity. 

In the last few weeks, we also broke ground on the second phase of the construction. As you may remember from my previous project updates, the first phase of the construction finished the major clinical and patient care areas. However, since a lot of what we do in these communities is focused on education of parents and community leaders, we feel like it is important also to have space for classes and other large group activities. Therefore, the second building, which is being constructed right next to the first, will contain an open space suitable for these activities. It will also have a separate attached office for our social workers, which will permit them to safely store records and conduct interviews in private with families. 

I am attaching a few photos that show this second phase of the construction getting underway!

As always, thanks for your ongoing support for this project. 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! 

Also, if you are interested in signing up for more regular updates on our work in Guatemala, click here.

Links:

Mar 1, 2012

Pictures of Staff at Work!

Cristalina making child growth entries.
Cristalina making child growth entries.

Dear Friends, 

I am writing you again from Guatemala, where I have spent the last several days visiting our projects. This is just a short update, whose purpose is mostly to post a few pictures of our staff hard at work!

In most of the updates we have made to this project so far we have talked about the needs of the children we are serving and about the nutritional product, Plumpydoz, that we are using. However, I wanted to take a moment to celebrate the hard work of our staff, whose compassion, commitment, and dedication make our programs a success. 

Community based nutritional programs like ours require multiple levels of staff in order to run smoothly. At the most local level, we work with women's cooperatives, who coordinate most of the program logistics, such as distributing nutritional products and medications, measuring children's heights and weights, and noting down data in medical records. These women's groups are closely supported by our nursing staff, who help with triaging patients and who also lead educational sessions about nutrition and other health topics.

In the first picture, you can see Cristalina, one of our community leaders hard at work; she has just finished weighing and measuring children and she is recording their data for the medical team to review. In the second picture, you can see Herlinda, one of our nurses, together with Carolina, another community leader; they are just about to take off to make some house calls on some of our most malnourished children. 

Finally, all children in our programs receive medical attention directly from our physician staff. This is done collaboratively with our nursing staff and with the community leaders, who always know the child's individual situation very well and provide expert advice on how to achieve our nutritional goals for each child. In the final picture, you can see our nurse Herlinda together with Dr. Cesar and myself carefully reviewing the growth of a particularly complicated case, trying to figure out how best to help the child out.

Thanks for listening!

Herlinda and Carolina making house calls.
Herlinda and Carolina making house calls.
Herlinda, Cesar, and Peter discussing a case.
Herlinda, Cesar, and Peter discussing a case.

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