Even though our work with women’s health in Guatemala began with our efforts to support midwives and expand services for women during pregnancy and delivery, we recognize that this is not enough. Focusing only on the needs of women during pregnancy – or during their reproductive years – has the unfortunate side effect of neglecting the health care needs that women have across the age spectrum.
This is why, while continuing our programs focused on improving the quality of pregnancy care, we’ve also been broadening our initiatives. Over the last two years, in particular, we’ve worked hard to augment cervical cancer screening in all the communities where our midwives work and live. This has been a tremendously well-received and much-needed initiative. As a result of the screening activities, we’ve picked up a number of new cervical cancer cases, which have required immediate treatment. Fortunately, at the same time that we’ve been developing the capacity of our community health workers to conduct screening activities, we’ve also been strengthening our network for cancer treatment. As a result, we are able to provide comprehensive cervical cancer treatment to any patients who are picked up during screening.
Another important benefit of the new screening programs has been the increased detection of sexually transmitted infections. Common sexually transmitted infections, especially Chlamydia and gonorrhea, are very prevalent in rural Guatemala, and they are not usually diagnosed, leading to sometimes severe health problems down the road. Our cervical cancer screening staff have been also trained in the management of these conditions, and they are able to use the cervical cancer screening encounter also as an opportunity to increase detection and awareness of these other problems.
Thanks for your ongoing support of our work! Read more about the work here.