We apologize for the lack of a regular update in some time, but we have been very busy arranging plans for summer projects and also submitting all of the grant applications, which seem to all come due in late June and early July.
We were in Guatemala at the end of April for the usual round of adminstrative visits and also medical consultations. We saw about 200 patients, a rather light load actually, in the usual venues, including subspecialty consultations in pediatrics and gynecology with ACOTCHI, house calls to diabetics and bed-ridden elderly in Pa K’in, and child malnutrition visits in Socorro.
Medically-speaking, there have been several gratifying experiences lately. The first has been our increasing success at making referral connections up to tertiary centers in Guatemala City. It has taken a long time to begin to develop this network, but it is nice to see it working. In one case, we had a woman pregnant with twins who had severe preeclampsia; we were able to participate in arranging transfer to a competent center where she delivered by cesarean and, after a three week hospital stay due to prematurity, her and the two identical twin boys were discharged in good health. In a second case, we encountered an 11 year old girl with severe kidney failure who were able to transfer to a specialist; she is doing much better after a brief hospital stay and is getting good followup.
Due mostly to the hard work of Wicha, our Pa K’in coordinator, we have begun to implement insulin therapy with our most severe diabetics, and the results and general compliance and satisfaction are excellent. Insulin therapy has been up to now a very frustrating experience for us, as the networks for ensuring follow-up and monitoring have not been in place. However, our health promoters are now very well-trained, and they are doing an excellent job.
The Engineers without Borders group that is collaborating with us on the potable water project in Socorro has released their final report and project recommendations. We can now see our way clear to a water systems solution, probably by early 2009, as long as we can get all the funding to fall into place. This project is essential to the health and well-being of this extremely impoverished village, where nearly all the residents suffer from chronic diarrhea and other consequences of unsafe water and where more than 50% of the children have growth stunting.
Very soon, you will become acquainted with the two newest additions to our staff. Sarah Messmer and Anita Chary will be Wuqu’ Kawoq interns starting in July 2008. They will be primarily responsible for administering child health programming on the coast, as well as more broadly interfacing with all aspects of our work in K’ichee’ speaking towns (Socorro, Chocolá, and environs).