Women’s health services are severely lacking in most regions of Guatemala, but much more so in the areas where the majority of the population is indigenous. Wuqu’ Kawoq has been working to improve women’s healthcare in Guatemala in a number of ways since its inception in 2007. However, this year, with the funding raised during our Global Giving fundraising campaign in October, Wuqu’ Kawoq has expanded its women’s healthcare program to provide more services in more areas of the country, with a greater focus on sexual and reproductive health and education than before.
Since 2007, Wuqu’ Kawoq has collaborated with a group of midwives called ACOTCHI (Asociación civil de Comadronas Tradicionales de Chimaltenango) based in the department of Chimaltenango. This group of midwives started in 2004 to create a network through which needs, information, resources, and support can be shared. These midwives are immensely dedicated, resourceful, and have come together to provide the best healthcare possible for the women of Chimaltenango. Wuqu’ Kawoq has specifically been working with them in clinical settings as well as in educational classes conducted by U.S. physicians (translated into Kaqchikel) to complement their work with more information and resources. In return, the physicians and Wuqu’ Kawoq learn more about the work the midwives are doing and their roles as major health providers in the communities of Guatemala.
In November of 2010, two volunteer pediatricians, Drs. Ty Melvin and Jane Striegel, from the Carle Physicians Group of Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana, Illinois, joined in teaching classes about neonatal resuscitation. Each midwife was provided a Laerdal Paediatric Pocket Mask used to administer effective mouth-to-mouth to infants not breathing after birth. These classes took place in Tecpán and San Juan Comalapa for three sessions in total. Each midwife practiced resuscitating an infant mannequin (made to simulate breathing once given effective mouth-to-mouth) while their peers and the physicians looked on to ensure proper technique. These classes were extremely successful and provided simple yet indispensable information and resources for assisting an infant to breath in the critical first minute of life.
In addition to working with midwives, Wuqu’ Kawoq is implementing two new branches of the women’s healthcare program for 2011. The first branch is educational, and the second is clinical. Starting in January of 2011, Wuqu’ Kawoq will hold sexual and reproductive health classes in Kaqchikel on topics like these: sexually transmitted infections (STIs), HIV/AIDS, cervical cancer, family planning, and contraception. These classes will initially be held in Santiago and San Pedro, in the department of Sacatepéquez, for women aged 15 and up.The clinical branch of this program will start in January 2011 as well. Wuqu’ Kawoq’s women’s healthcare clinics will provide STI testing and treatment, provision of contraception, and eventually HIV screening, as well as testing and treatment for cervical cancer.