Health promoters in Mexico learn how to provide vital basic health care
Strengthening Community Health Workers
The poor in remote areas are the least likely to receive adequate health care. Local community health workers can provide valuable health services to thousands of families that live in these rural, hard to reach areas and provide a grassroots, low-cost solution. They serve as the first line of health and can create links and emergency planning for more high-level care during emergencies. GPA works with local organizations in some of the most neglected areas to train teams of health workers, in some areas creating community health committees, on prenatal care, obstetric emergencies, first aid, and respiratory and diarrheal diseases, as well as in the coordination of an emergency transportation fund for communities.
Supporting Health Advocacy
Mistrust and discrimination often prevent poor or indigenous people from seeking necessary care at hospitals or health centers. Community health workers, the primary bridge between communities and state health facilities, must therefore be patient advocates as well as care providers. To increase trust, cooperation, and patient access, we facilitate partnerships between these health workers and professional medical staff. We also advise and assist health workers in developing their own professional networks to share knowledge and increase their capacity as advocates.
Projects Bringing Vital Care to Communities that Need It Most
Community health workers in San Martín Jilotepeque, Guatemala
Project: Training of 20 Community Health Committees
Organization: APROSADSE, San Martín Jilotepeque, Guatemala
Beneficiaries: 55 health promoters trained benefitting 2800 people
San Martin Jilotepeque is one of Guatemala’s most neglected municipalities with 77% of the population living in poverty and 30% in extreme poverty. Roads and public transportation are extremely poor. Only one 2nd level medical clinic and 8 sparsely equipped health centers serve the municipality, resulting in deaths and complications from treatable conditions, some of which include respiratory problems, diarrhea, hemorrhage, pre-eclampsia, and postpartum complications. GPA has partnered with APROSADSE, a local organization founded by a group of health promoters in 1975, focused on improving the health and well-being of the municipality’s most marginalized groups, most of which belong to the Kaqchikel Maya ethnic group. The project consists of forming and training 20 health committees to identify and respond to health emergencies, particularly among women and children through a series of workshops covering first aid, prenatal care, obstetric emergencies, nutrition, respiratory and diarrheal diseases, and the creation of a community transportation and emergency fund. APROSADSE then provides follow up visits and meetings with the newly formed health committees.
The volunteer health staff at the local clinic in Zitín, Chiapas
Project: Training of 31 Health Promoters Serving 17 Communities in Health and Emergencies
Organization: Camino de Viento, Zitín, Chiapas, Mexico
Beneficiaries: 529 families or approximately 3000 community members
Camino de Viento is a cooperative formed by 13 health promoters and 2 midwives, and serves the highly marginalized Zapatista communities in the highlands region of Huixtan, Chiapas, made up of both Tseltal and Tzotsil-speaking ethnic groups. The organization runs a community clinic and serves communities that otherwise would lack access to quality health care and who suffer inordinately from preventable diseases such as intestinal disease, respiratory infections and birth complications. Thirty-one health promoters serving 17 communities are being trained through a series of 13 workshops on maternal and women’s health, pediatrics, neonatal services and first-aid. The health promoters with Camino de Viento will conduct community health campaigns and build links with surrounding community clinics to strengthen networks, provide support and foment the exchange of information. Specific goals include the decrease in illnesses among women and children living in rural areas, expanding the network of trained health promoters in the region and providing effective attention in emergency and first aid.
Community health worker monitoring the pulse of local residents in Nuevo Huitiupan, Chiapas
Project: Training of Health Committees and Promoters
Organization: Asociación Campesina por un Mundo Mejor (ACPMM),
Nuevo Huitiupan, Chiapas.
Beneficiaries: 35 Health Promoters serving a population of 10,200
Nuevo Huitiupan is an area made up of the Tzotzil and Chol indigenous groups, and is characterized by extreme poverty in a rural setting, low education and low literacy levels. The area lacks medical professionals and services, and is characterized by inaccessible roads and public transportation, with most residents having to walk on average 4 hours to access medical attention. As a response, ACPMM, a local organization, is training health promoters from these communities on obstetric emergencies, prenatal care and high risk factors, nutrition and vaccinations. Trainings are in collaboration with physicians from the Hospital de las Culturas, medical interns and by Camino de Viento trainers so that health promoters can offer basic health care to their community members, and recognize and act upon emergency situations in an effort to reduce mortality as a result of preventable and treatable causes.