Health and Well-being
According to USAID
“Guatemala has the highest rate of stunting in the Western Hemisphere and the fifth highest rate in the world, with nearly half of all children under five stunted and chronically malnourished. Lack of access to health services has life and death consequences; the maternal mortality ratio is 108 deaths per 100,000 live births. Health outcomes drastically decline when disaggregated across Guatemala’s population, where indigenous people, people with lower educational levels, and people living in poverty are disproportionately affected. Among indigenous children under the age of five, stunting rates rise to 70 percent, while indigenous women experience a 30 percent higher risk (139 deaths per 100,000 live births) of maternal mortality. High teenage pregnancy rates (one in five girls nationally have given birth by age 19, one in four in the Western Highlands) further exacerbate Guatemala’s youth bulge and complicate educational and economic advancement for young parents. These health challenges limit Guatemala’s growth.”
Esperanza's work in this area includes:
health education, clinics, and clean water (a priority).
Clean water efforts
Before 2020, few families had running water. Water was collected in cisterns, or mostly, by going to 'springs' which gathered the tiny stream water. There was one existing well and a new one was under construction, but they were competing for limited funds. Consulting with Engineers Without Borders in Guatemala, we arranged a meeting of all interested parties, including the town government. EWB provided follow-up.
At the end of 2019, through a new water committee, the town initiated laying water pipes. We struck a cooperative agreement that we would purchase the meters if local families would pay for the plumbers needed for the installation.
Now nearly all family units (which are often extended family compounds) have a spigot and meter allowing water to be piped to their home. Precarious water levels at springs and streams during droughts no longer threaten the townspeople, and the backbreaking labor of carrying buckets from springs to homes has been eliminated. The next goal is to purify the water being used in the village. We are working to conduct an effective information and motivational campaign to ensure that water and hygiene sanitation (WaSH) will be the result. This may be through the distribution of hundreds of bucket-filtration systems throughout the town, or, if the quality of water allows, an at-source filtration system rather than individual units. This may lead to a new initiative requiring years of effort and funding.
In 2016, a two-day community health clinic was offered. The clinic was open to all community members who wished to be seen by a nurse or doctor. News of the clinic was spread widely by a roving truck announcement. Eighty people were served and from this, a relationship with the local government clinic was established which now has expanded its role in the community. Since this first clinic, Esperanza has been able to help with medicines, supplies and small clinical equipment needs.
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Esperanza has offered two different relief efforts during the COVID-19 health crisis.
For details, please go to the Special Projects page: