Diagnosing and treating anemia in rural Guatemala

by Washington State University Foundation Vetted since 2012


Iron deficiency anemia (IDA) is one of the most common, yet treatable health problems in developing nations. IDA delays growth and impairs cognitive development in children. During pregnancy, IDA increases risk of infants born with low birth weight. Traveling to 5 villages each year, nearly 1200 people are screened for IDA. Lucky Iron Fish are given to those with IDA, which provides iron for an entire family for 5 years. The goal of this project is to reduce the prevalence of IDA in Guatemala.

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Due to chronic malnutrition, anemia is a common health problem among indigenous populations in rural regions of Guatemala. Anemia adversely affects the health of infants, children, and women. Barriers that make this problem particularly challenging for health-care providers include difficulty gaining access to secluded populations, a lack of screening instruments that can be used in remote settings, and treatments (iron supplements) that provide short-term solutions to a chronic health problem.


Battery-operated instruments are used to screen for anemia. Furthermore, iron supplements are a short-term solution to this chronic health problem. Alternatively, one Lucky Iron Fish provides an entire family with 75% of their daily iron requirements for 5 years. This easy, inexpensive, and effective alternative to iron supplements enriches the cooking water with iron that is used to prepare family meals. Ingredients absorb the iron-rich water, which increases the iron content of the meal.

Long-Term Impact

This project addresses multiple barriers that perpetuate the generational affects of iron deficiency anemia (IDA). IDA impairs cognitive ability, growth, and development in children. During pregnancy, IDA increases risk of low birth weight infants, which compromises the health of future generations. During this 10-day medical mission, nearly 1200 Guatemalans living in poverty are screened for IDA. Because of one Lucky Iron Fish, the health of entire families will improve.

Additional Documentation

This project has provided additional documentation in a DOCX file (projdoc.docx).


HIM provides medical care through medical missions
Spring break HIM medical mission Spring 2015
Spring breaks from the ordinary
Lucky Iron Fish efficacy documentation

Organization Information

Washington State University Foundation

Location: Pullman, Washington - USA
Website: http:/​/​foundation.wsu.edu/​
Project Leader:
Kathy Beerman
Pullman, Washington United States
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$1,523 raised of $4,953 goal
41 donations
$3,430 to go
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