Guatemala Hope has a Health Committee here in Canada who make recommendations to the Board of Directors regarding health issues. They liaise with the village committee to keep communications open and initiate projects related to health. When we visited El Triunfo at the beginning of our work, we 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.
Temporary Clinics are held annually in one or two villages in the fall 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.We have been fortunate to have Physicians, Nurse Practitioners, Registered Nurses, Nursing Assistants, Dentists, Naturopathic Physician Students and nursing 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 trauma 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, containers for packing, pharmacy supplies, reading glasses... to name a few of the items. All medication is brought with us. Many Canadian individuals donate medical supplies and other items that help make the clinic clean and efficient. We are also exploring sources to purchase some of the medication 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 all patients 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 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.
We test patient vision and prescribe glasses.The glasses are provided by another charity called Wells of Hope. We were 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 the central warehouse in St. Catherines where they are tested for strength, labelled and boxed ready to be sent to third world countries. Dr. Gilmore trained a Canadian team to work with him and learn the procedures for testing. A local lady was also trained and now has the knowledge to do testing to serve the community.
Vitamin drives were held to bring enough vitamins to provide a one year supply of vitamins for every person in the village. These augmented the poor diet that we observed for the families. One very large donation of Children’s multivitamins from Jamieson laboratories had to be shipped by freighter and was enough to provide vitamins to 8 small villages in the El Triunfo and surrounding area. Currently we are purchasing vitamins to give to the weaker and frail patients when we visit annually.
Many illnesses were related to the contaminated water supply. Shallow wells provided the water to each home. Parasites and water born diseases are prevalent.
Guatemala Hope assisted the community in completing a clean water project in El Triunfo. Each home now has access to clean water. To reinforce the proper use of clean water, health education included hand washing, nutrition, dental hygiene, hydration, heat stroke, and Parasite prevention is being provided repeatedly for children and adults.
We established a local committee 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. The local health committees meet regularly. 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 have kept very strict records, and are responsible and accountable to their community and to us. The members of this committee are thrilled 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.
Nebulizers, first aid supplies, crutches, braces, walkers and wheelchairs are available for their use.
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.
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 made contact with the University of San Carlos in Guatemala City and have an agreement to work together to provide medical care in El Triunfo. The senior medical students are required to spend 6 months providing medical care to the people of Guatemala. They need places to be assigned to and a sponsor to provide a small stipend and the equipment. They do require a building that is dedicated to the medical clinic, and can be in combination with a dental clinic. The dental department has a similar program.
Our thanks for the ongoing support of the people of our community who generously donate all the equipment 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