Appropriate Health Programming Update!

Friday, October 23rd was a very exciting first day of a series of appropriate health workshops that will train women in rural communities with limited access to health services, to be empowered health promoters for their own families and neighbors. These photos are of the opening ceremonies and presentations, as a group of about 30 AMA partners began their two year training journey to become both accredited midwives and emergency medical service providers in their communities. The program will enable them to triage medical issues as well as network them with regional public and private health services in those cases of serious emergencies that can not be handled locally.

The opening presentation was held at the highland school of Twi’Ninwitz in San Juan Ostuncalco, a town located west of Quetzaltenango. Orientation included the methodology of AMA and highlighted the differences between a midwife and a doctor. It was emphasized that being a midwife requires a special and unique type of love and empathy that is not necessarily required of a medic. Midwifery is an invaluable profession, and all of the women told our community facilitator Mayra that they were extremely excited and nervous to begin this course. They spoke of how wonderful it will be to have the knowledge to treat and diagnose various illnesses for themselves, their children, and grandchildren. No longer will they need to leave running in search for a midwife when a child is sick, they will have the capacity in their communities to handle medical issues directly.

A critical problem in rural communities in Guatemala is the lack of health services available nearby, especially in cases of severe sickness and emergency. AMA and HSP strive to solve this issue by empowering community leaders with access to appropriate health care: health knowledge that is politically, culturally, and economically relevant for a particular community. An existing example of this method is AMA’s annual diabetes campaign, through which community facilitators give a presentation on diabetes and its risk factors and causes in order to educate community members about the disease. When time and resources are invested in education rather than medical supplies, diseases can be prevented and existing cases are addressed via root causes, not just symptoms.

The appropriate health care approach allows community members to identify local and environmental problems, as well as the capabilities that already exist within a community to handle those problems, creating a healthcare system that is lasting and sustainable.  Experience has shown time and again that this cooperative, participatory approach that engages empowered community members to make change in their own communities is not only the most effective form of healthcare development for the health professionals, it is also the most patient-centered, ensuring that the relationship between patients and their local healthcare providers is based on mutual trust and a general focus on holistic community well-being.  With the education they are receiving, our community health partners can feel more secure and confident in their ability to protect the health of their families. There is still a long process ahead, but we are proud and honored to come together to begin this two-year challenge. “Thank you to all of AMA & HSP’s partners for your love and your support, and for finding these links for us, the ones that you coordinate that help us learn.”

Laura Catania