Milestones in Guatemala
Posted: July 20, 2017
This quarter marks another period of great success for Curamericas Global. Every day we help save the lives of women and children in 7 different countries. We are particularly excited about several significant milestones in our Casa Materna project in Guatemala, generously supported by Ronald McDonald House Charities for over six years!
This year alone, we have served 7886 children and managed 146 births. We have also maintained our most significant milestone – zero maternal deaths in our 26 partner communities over the past 3 years. This incredible achievement is a testament not only to the effectiveness of the Casas Maternas in managing normal and complicated births, but also to the communities’ acceptance and trust of the Casas and their staff.
Health outreach to mothers and children remained steady this quarter, with 344 visits to households with children under age two to monitor infant growth. We also recently expanded outreach to include reimplementation of a Positive Deviance/Hearth intervention. To use the Positive Deviance method, we identify the mothers of well-nourished children and find out what strategies they use to keep their children healthy. Then, we help disseminate these locally-developed strategies. Reimplementing this method helps us to further reduce stunting and malnutrition in children under age two in our project communities.
Empowerment through Health Education
The ‘Train the Trainer’ Model that Curamericas employs continues to save lives and build the capacity of local stakeholders. This model utilizes the Care Group approach, empowering local women to take on the roles of health professionals. Throughout the quarter, we reached 718 women with our Care Group Training of Trainers approach. This includes 582 mothers who receive bi-monthly health lessons in the community, 111 mother peer educators, called Comunicadoras, and 25 Community Facilitators, who train the Comunicadoras.
Once trained, the Comunicadoras teach classes for other women, helping to further disseminate the health education that saves the lives of their community members by reducing death and disease. Over the years, we have seen promising growth in these educational classes. For example, in 2014, there were 585 total participants in pregnancy classes, called the ‘escuela de embarazadas’. This year, we are on track to more than double that number- after this quarter, we have already had 587 total participants.
One of the topics covered in the Self-Help Groups is prenatal care. Prenatal care helps to identify and prepare for complications such as eclampsia. This quarter, 75% of women who gave birth at the Casas Maternas had also received at least 4 prenatal checkups, up from 13% at the inception of the project. This milestone is especially important due to the remote locations of our partner communities. If a complication can be identified early on, the Casa Materna staff can issue a referral and the family will have time to go to a higher-level facility for a safer delivery.
In the past, a major barrier to healthcare has been geographical access to health facilities. In the rural highlands of Guatemala, families are hours away from the nearest hospital. Even transportation to the local Casa Materna could be costly. Many families are unable or unwilling to pay for transportation and therefore cannot access healthcare. However, this quarter, we reached a cost-sharing arrangement with the municipal government of San Miguel Acatán for the operation of an ambulance. The ambulance provides transportation to the Casa Materna in Tuzlaj, free of charge to the patients there.
Eliminating the transportation costs for families has dramatically increased the use of the Casa Materna in Tuzlaj. The ambulance has also increased the servable catchment of the Casa Materna so that we are now able to serve a much larger area than we ever envisioned. Over the next quarter we hope to continue finding creative solutions like this one to overcome barriers to healthcare access not only in Guatemala, but across the globe.
All in all, it has been an eventful and encouraging quarter at Curamericas Global. We are excited to continue this trajectory of success in the coming months! You can help us on this path by supporting our programs and the mothers and children they serve- make a donation today!
Article written by Emmy Burroughs, Outreach and Development Intern
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