By Jenny Eaton Dyer
This is part 2 of a 2-part blog series chronicling Hope Through Healing Hands' trip to Guatemala via CARE's Learning Tours program.
On our second day in Guatemala, we had the privilege of traveling to the northern area of Coban. In this rainforest landscape, we landed amidst the hazy fog to visit a local hospital as well as a family.
At Coban Hospital, we were able to tour with the lead physicians to learn about the maternal and child health available there for the surrounding communities. The Regional Hospital of Coban is listed as the only tertiary service in the region, specializing in internal medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, orthopedics, general surgery, pediatrics and neurology, with coverage throughout Alta Verapaz, including area east and north-east of the Quiche, northern Baja Verapaz, southern Petén and Izabal western area. Women with complications during pregnancy or childbirth were directed there by their community health workers for a safer, easier delivery. We saw many of the women with their babies there in the post-partum room. We were even allowed to visit the newborn babies in the infant ward.
That afternoon, we were able to do a home visit to witness how PlanFam was implementing education and resources for voluntary family planning in the region. We visited the home of Emma and Arnoldo and their their newborn baby. The community health worker demonstrated a typical dialogue with the husband and wife to discuss how they wish to space their next pregnancy. In the case of Emma and Arnoldo, they had been using natural family planning for two years prior to their first pregnancy and it had been successful. For that reason, they wanted to continue with that method to space their next pregnancy and wait another three years until they might consider the possibility of a second child. That being said, the PlanFam community health worker was prepared with an array of options for the family.
We learned that an advertising campaign for family planning, directed toward husbands and wives in Guatemala, had been extremely effective. They had radio, television, and print advertisements that resonated well with families in terms of critically thinking about family size in terms of economic viability and capacity. Some of those ads are seen here:
We were excited to see how USAID funding through PlanFam in Coban was being used to educate families, offer a variety of options, and save lives of mothers and children through this simple, yet effective program.