“In a community in which feeding thin liquids to infants is the norm, these ladies insisted that kids under two be fed thick mashes of vegetables, beans, grains, or eggs. They knew that babies need to breastfeed for at least 10 minutes per breast to get all the nutrients from mom’s milk. And they understood that good nutrition in pregnancy needs to start from the moment mom thinks she might be pregnant–because baby is already developing. This type of knowledge shift is vitally important in a community in which 80% of children are malnourished.”
Maternal Health: Healthy children require healthy moms. Healthy moms require clinical services, education and well-trained midwives. In additional to comprehensive women’s health and education, we provide prenatal services including pregnancy monitoring, the treatment of anemia, and other pregnancy-related complications to all women in our communities.
Additionally, we are in partnership with ACOTCHI, a 100-member strong cooperative of Maya midwives. We work together to provide high-quality continuing education activities for member midwives which bolster their knowledge base and sense of professional identity. Our training program is offered exclusively in the Mayan language Kaqchikel, a first in the history of midwife training programs in Guatemala. In 2009, we helped to open a pilot midwifery school for young women with clinical rotations to be based out of the ACOTCHI facility. The first class graduated 11 women in 2012 and a second class has begun with 12 new students. We also launched a new pilot initiative designed to scale-up prenatal and child health services in rural villages in the ACOTCHI catchment area.
Children and Nutrition: Guatemala has the highest rate of chronic child malnutrition in the Western hemisphere, with rates often exceeding 80% in rural areas. Chronic malnutrition causes impaired cognitive and motor development, and permanently lowers a person’s IQ, cognitive abilities and earning potential. Additionally, chronic malnutrition in childhood increases the likelihood of adult obesity and prevalence to chronic disease such as diabetes.
Our programs provide universal nutritional and micronutrient supplementation to all children from 6 months of age onward and to all pregnant and lactating women. We also focus on educating child caregivers about breastfeeding, complementary foods, common childhood illnesses, hygiene and clean water through our community-based nutrition education classes. Additionally, the foundation for all of our nutrition programs is the provision of good primary care for children. Children with complex needs are immediately referred to our surgical or special needs programs.
Cost of Program: Our estimated annual cost of this program is $100,000. With an estimated 700 women and 2000 children in our program, the cost amounts to approximately $35 per person, per year.