Guatemala Hope has a Health Committee here in Canada who make recommendations to the Board of Directors regarding health issues. They liaise with village committees to keep communications open and initiate projects related to health. When we visited El Triunfo in 2001 at the beginning of our work, Canadians and Guatemalans alike recognized the need for health initiatives. Most villagers were malnourished and suffering from various illnesses and infections. To assist in the improvement health and well being of the people we serve the following initiatives have been undertaken.
Currently, the nearest medical help to Triunfo and surrounding area is a 2 hour drive away!!! It has been a dream of Guatemala Hope for the past 18 years to improve the healthcare in the area. After helping address the medical needs by holding annual large week long medical clinics at last we are positioned to complete a partially built Medical clinic in Triunfo and make day to day medical care a reality.
In 2018, Guatemala Hope worked very closely with the Guatemala City Engineering & Architectural Department of the Ministry of Health, to complete very comprehensive set of blueprints to make the clinic smaller and easier to build and maintain, shore up the current walls to make the building earthquake proof and follow all Health Ministry guidelines. The Guatemala Board has agree to kick off fundraising to raise $100,000 to complete the building of the Triunfo Clinic. We will work with the area Health Minister, provide ongoing support and training, and work toward the clinic becoming self-sufficient. This clinic will serve not only Triunfo, but villagers from several neighbouring villages.
It has taken many years of negotiation and broken promises from district mayors to get us to the point we are today – The Triunfo Clinic “Puesto de Salud” (Health House) is a partially completed structure with inferior cement blocks up to roof level. Triunfo villagers stopped the construction in summer 2017 and sought the help of the Guatemalan Ministry of Health and Guatemala Hope to help complete the building properly.
Guatemala Hope now has a 14 page comprehensive blueprint designed by the Guatemala Health Ministry including drainage, septic system, electrical, plumbing, lighting and signage. In addition, the Ministry has provided us with a complete materials list of supplies needed to begin.
The clinic will include 2 assessment rooms, a treatment/pharmacy area, an intake waiting room, with overflow seating outdoors, washrooms and a bedroom for an onsite nurse. A minimal visiting fee and minimal medicine fees will be charged to cover maintenance, lighting and water fees, nurse and reception salaries. We will work to function as a combination of private and public facility so families can come to the clinic for vaccinations or free prenatal vitamins if they are available.
Basic health care is beyond the financial needs of most villagers because the nearest doctors are two hours away and they cannot afford the cost of transportation, medical fees and medicines. Week long medical clinics are held annually by Guatemala Hope in Triunfo at the end of the rainy season. Many people are ill at this time of year because contaminants are much more prevalent in damp hot conditions.
Local villages are assigned clinic days. Our bus travels out each morning and afternoon to transport patients from Esperanza, Guajiloyte, El Tigre, Chicago, Tahuesco, Punta Arena and Los Tiestos. Upon arrival patients get their paperwork started at out intake center, staffed by local students. They next our worm and parasite station where they receive medication as needed. After get their blood pressure checked patients then wait to see a doctor or nurse practitioner at one of our 4 assessment centers. After seeing the doctor, the patient will receive any on-site treatment needed then wait for their prescriptions to be filled. Medicines and vitamins we carry with us or purchase in Guatemala are given out free of charge.
Patients who require additional medical attention fill out a referral form that is managed by our Triunfo and Los Tiestos Health Committees to help them get assistance at Hospital de San Pedro Hermano in Antigua, Guatemala or at other medical facilities (closest is 2 hours away).
We have been fortunate to have Physicians, Nurse Practitioners, Registered Nurses, Nursing Assistants, Dentists and Medical Students volunteer their time to come and work with us.
We do testing for diabetes, high blood pressure and pregnancy. We treat parasites, skin infections, throat and ear infections, asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia, gastritis, headaches, muscle aches, malnutrition, anemia, menstrual difficulties, as well as any emergency traumas that present during our stay. We bring supplies for glucometer readings, blood pressure screening, pregnancy tests, dressing supplies, IV supplies for emergencies, urine dipsticks, sheets, washcloths, pharmacy supplies, reading glasses... to name a few of the items. Donated medication is brought with us on the airplane. Many Canadian individuals donate medical and wound care supplies and other items that help make our clinics successful. We continue exploring sources to purchase medication and vitamins in Guatemala.
The days are long, hot, and very intense but the joy of bringing hope to the families through improved health fills the hearts of our missionaries.
We bring dentists from Guatemala City to the village with us to treat patients of all ages with dental problems. They are kept very busy doing extractions. Patients have no access to a dentist because of the cost factor. Often the tooth decay is advanced and a filling may not be possible. Many dental abscesses must be treated with antibiotics before the extractions can be done. We rely on the generosity of our local Canadian dentists and oral surgeons to donate the supplies. The dentists attending bring their own dental tools. A few of the local women have been trained to assist the dentist with sterilization of equipment and the handling of tools as they are needed.
During our eye clinics, we test patient vision and prescribe glasses.The glasses are provided by another Ontario charity called Wells of Hope. Thanks to Wells of Hope, we have been able to bring a large supply of glasses of all different strengths that were donated to the Lion’s Clubs of Ontario. We also accept donations of prescription glasses. These donated glasses go to their central warehouse in St. Catherines where they are tested for strength, labelled and boxed ready to be sent to third world countries. Windsor's Dr. Ed Gilmore trained a Canadian team and a local lady to work with him and learn the procedures for testing.
Our goal is to provide a 6 month - one year supply of vitamins for every child and needy adult in the village. These augmented the poor diet that we observed for the families. Currently we are purchasing vitamins to give to children, pregnant women and weaker and frail patients. Some vitamins are purchased locally, but most are now purchased in Guatemala. A Guatemalan Nutritional drink supplement Incaparina is also purchased for children.
Many illnesses are related to the contaminated water supply. Shallow wells provided the water to each home. Parasites and water born diseases are prevalent.
Guatemala Hope assisted El Triunfo in completing a clean water project that has a water tower, water lines to each home and a faucet at each property. Each home now has access to clean water. To reinforce the proper use of clean water, health education has included hand washing, nutrition, dental hygiene, hydration, and Parasite prevention for children and adults. In Triunfo, we struggle with ocean salt water and poor electrical supply damaging the tower and affecting supply (See Community Development / Potable Water Projects). Today, all neighbouring villages still draw up water from a well.
We established 2 local Health Committees and provide funding to them so they can assist patients in our absence. This money can help with the costs for tests, travel to doctor offices and hospitals, operations, and medication. Anyone who has a health problem and cannot afford to seek treatment or pay for treatment can apply for assistance. The committee assesses the situation, including the ability of the patient to contribute to the treatment. They help by arranging travel for those who have no vehicle, actually accompanying them for visits to a local hospital or clinic, providing funds to assist as needed, and follow up afterward. This gives the people hope for improved health and the security they need for travel in a dangerous country. They kept excellent records, and are responsible and accountable to their community and to Guatemala Hope. The members of this committee are happy to be able to help their neighbors and friends in this way.
Some of the villagers have volunteered to take care of minor injuries and provide asthma treatments. They received training from our staff and were provided with instruction materials. Guatemala Hope continues to supply them with Nebulizers, first aid supplies, crutches, braces, walkers and wheelchairs.
When we began working in Triunfo, the three local midwives asked us to bring them scales to weigh the babies. As little as this is- three fish scales from our local department store---it has given them the ability to monitor infant weights and delight the parents with the information that their newborns are healthy. We also provided alcohol, gauze, linens, umbilical cord ties, gloves, hand sanitizer and donated baby blankets. Unfortunately, as our midwives have gotten older and the government has mandated that all first babies must be born in the hospital, there is only 1 midwife still active in the area.
We established a rapport with the St. Hermano Pedro Hospital in Antiqua. This hospital cares for the poor and only charges the patients what they can afford to pay. A social assessment is done prior to any treatment being done. Often the care is done at no charge. Surgeries are performed by teams from all over the world who come to serve the poor so the surgery is at no cost. The patients may have to pay fees for Lab tests and then for medication- according to their means.
Guatemala Hope is in contact with the University of San Carlos in Guatemala City and hope to work with them once our clinic is finished. The senior medical students are required to spend 6 months providing medical care to the people of Guatemala. They need facilities to be assigned to and a sponsor to provide a small stipend and the equipment. They do require a building that is dedicated as a medical clinic, and can be in combination with a dental clinic. The Univeristy's dental department has a similar program.
Our thanks for the ongoing support of the people of our community who generously donate the medicine, equipment and supplies for our work. Guatemala Hope will continue to work to provide assistance to improve the health and well being of the people of El Triunfo and the surrounding area. We hope to be able to meet the needs as they arise for people who have no means to obtain medical care. If you would like to participate or contribute to any of our programs, please contact us at