Wednesday, February 15, 2017
The Medical Team Kicks off the Women's Health Initiative!
Written by Tatiana Petrovick, Medical Program Manager
Our Women's Health Intiative has officially begun! A few weeks ago, the coordinators of the new initiative attended a three-day training with our partner organization Wuqu’ Kawoq-Maya Health Alliance and participated in two days of supervised field work; including our first screening clinic here in the Charlie Gomez Medical Clinic.
The Mayan Families team with the training staff of Wuqu'Kawok; Photo by Livvy Runyon
Through our Women’s Health Initiative, we are working to provide life-saving health services to women in the highlands of Guatemala. Mayan Families plans to offer cancer screening to 400 women and provide education on reproductive health through weekly small group educational sessions. This initiative was fully funded by our #GivingTuesday campaign last November, when over 150 supporters came together to start two new preventative health programs.
“[Screening] is very important because it can allow us to detect cancer early on and treat it,” says Rosa, a member of our Women’s Health team. Ana, Mayan Families midwife, echoes her and says, “Just one small exam can save a life.”
Focusing on women’s health in Guatemala is important because previously not much attention has been paid it. Too often, we see families torn apart and children left without mothers because of preventable diseases. One of these diseases is cervical cancer, which is especially dangerous in countries like Guatemala where health services are poorly funded and do not reach a large percentage of the population.
Photo by Anna Watts
Cervical cancer is the most common cancer among women in Guatemala; however, less than half of women in Guatemala have ever been screened,. This means that many cases of cervical cancer cases are caught at advanced stages, making them harder to treat.
“Men don’t worry about women’s health and neither do women, because they worry more about their children,” says Rosa.
Dr. Silvia, the Mayan Families staff doctor, also commented that “[f]or many women, they have so many things to do for their family that stopping for a moment to take care of their own health is a waste of time.”
Ana also wants to reach out to local women and explain the importance of taking control of their own health. “If a woman takes care of herself and comes in for regular exams, she will be able to spend more time with her children in the future.”
Our team is confident that this initiative will help bring more attention to women’s health within the community and bring health services to women who need them.
“I hope to help our clients have a better understanding of reproductive health and why is it important to come in for screening,” explains Dr. Silvia. “I want to explain their options so that they can make good choices."
The Women’s Health Initiative is run through the Charlie Gomez Medical Clinic, which is focused on providing primary care and preventative health services to Mayan Families clients. Donate today to help us reach more people and provide health care to those in need!
Meet Doña Crecencia, one of the hundreds of indigenous women in Guatemala who would have survived with access to screening and treatment for cervical cancer.