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.
Sep 7, 2012

Improving Education about Nutrition

The focus group team
The focus group team

Dear Friends,

 Our child nutrition programs have always had three basic pillars.

 (1) The provision of nutritional supplements to children, to help prevent malnutrition and provide as a "safety net" in times of food insecurity.

(2) The provision of excellent medical care, to help identify and treat the diseases--both common and rare-- that contribution to child malnutrition.

(3) Education of caregivers and community leaders about child health and nutrition, to help provide communities with the tools they themselves need to be engaged in protecting the health of their children.

Of these three pillars, by far education is the most challenging. This may sound counter-intuitive at first. However, if you think about all the different barriers that exists to a good educational program--such as low rates of literacy, or the inherent resistance there always is to changing infant rearing practices (which are time-honored and passed down from generation to generation in every culture)--then it is becomes easier to understand why educational programs are numerous but quality educational programs (that produce real change at the community level) are few indeed. 

With this mind, I'm happy to report that Wuqu' Kawoq has just finished up the initial stages of a massive program evaluation designed to improve our nutritional education programming. To accomplish this, we assembled a highly skilled team of community health workers, anthropologists, and nutritionists, who spend most of July and August conducting dozens of focus groups and hundreds of interviews with community leaders, parents, and other stakeholders in our communities.

This evaluation was wide-ranging, designed to help us understand better what parents think about the health of their children and the causes of malnutrition. It will also give us deeper inside into dietary diversity, breastfeeding and weaning practices, and competing nutritional messages from other groups (such as companies which market infant foods).

 Right now our team is evaluating the immense amount of data that was collected during this evaluation. Within the next month or two, we will have a formal report from the team which will identify the areas where our current nutrition education programming might be deficient or not exactly in line with the needs of our communities and give us recommendations for improvement. We're very excited about this great opportunity we have to continue to improve our programs so that we can better serve the children of Guatemala!

As always, thanks so much for your continued support, and keep in touch! Feel free to drop me an email at any point at peter@wuqukawoq.org. 

Traveling to communities
Traveling to communities
Interviews in progress
Interviews in progress

Links:

Jul 6, 2012

Phase 2 of Construction Nearly Complete

Dear Friends -

Things are going so well with this project, thanks to your help and support! As you know, the first clinic is now fully functional and operating at capacity. The second building, which will serve as bathrooms, office, and classroom space is nearing completion! I'm attaching some pictures that show the progress we've been making.

Be sure to follow along as this project evolves! Even thought the bricks and mortar portion of the construction is nearly finished, we still need your help furnishing the space with office and clinical equipment, painting the walls, beautifying the common space out front, etc. 

Links:

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!

Links:

 
   

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