Three Cobourg health professionals are Guatemala-bound

By Cecilia Nasmith

Three Cobourg health professionals will be part of the Horizons of Friendship team travelling to Guatemala on a maternal-newborn-child-health knowledge exchange as part of its continuing Reducing Gaps for Indigenous Peoples in Totonicapán, Guatemala project.

The 10-day exchange that begins Feb. 23 is being led by Horizons, a third team they have escorted over the course of the four-year $13.2-million project being funded by the Government of Canada.

It will include health-care providers, experts and advocates from across the country to exchange knowledge and experiences on the challenging maternal-newborn-child-health issues Indigenous Maya K’iche peoples face in that Central American country.

The 11 participants include family physicians, midwives, nurses, health administrators, a pediatrician and a dietitian, coming from as far away as British Columbia and Prince Edward Island. Among them are three participants from Northumberland Hills Hospital and the Northumberland Family Health Team.

The goal of this project is the reduction of maternal and child deaths in Totonicapán, a predominantly Indigenous Maya K’iche province with one of the highest maternal mortality rates in Central America.

Implemented by Horizons’ local partner - the Association for Health Promotion, Research and Education (PIES)in close collaboration with the Totonicapán Health Directorate - this initiative provides culturally relevant training and equipment to more than 950 traditional Indigenous Maya K’iche’ midwives. It is also stocking dozens of health centres and the provincial hospital with life-saving equipment, and implementing a province-wide maternal and child health promotion and education campaign.

In the almost three years since its launch, organizers estimate the project has already benefited more than 140,000 Indigenous Maya women, children and men.

Horizons executive director Patricia Rebolledo said they are honoured to be part of this forum that enables meaningful and respectful opportunities for mutual learning.

“Mutual respect and understanding lie at the heart of these exchanges, through which we aim to nurture co-operation between Canada and Guatemala while placing social justice issues front and centre,” Rebolledo said in the agency's press release.