Guatemala has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in Latin America. Due to lack of access to quality maternity care and discrimination, Indigenous Mayan women are twice as likely to die from pregnancy and childbirth-related complications than non-Indigenous women.
We partner with organizations that are strengthening Guatemala’s workforce of Indigenous midwives to provide skilled, compassionate and culturally-sensitive maternity care to Indigenous mothers. At the same time, they are working with institutional and government leaders to advance the role of midwives and better integrate their services.
In many parts of the country, particularly in rural areas, Indigenous midwives (comadronas) are the primary health care workers because they are trusted and speak the local language. Comadronas act as vital links to important cultural traditions and are the principal source of care for Guatemala’s Indigenous mothers and babies. We invest in organizations providing clinical training for comadronas, as well as training for university-level midwives (or parteras) to increase the number of professional midwives throughout the country.
Comadronas and parteras face a number of obstacles when it comes to providing care to improve maternal and newborn health outcomes. They face widespread discrimination at many of Guatamala’s clinics and hospitals and suffer from a lack of recognition and integration into the country’s formal health care system. Our partners work with leaders at the local and national level to advocate for changes that recognize the important role midwives play and support better integration of their services
We believe in the power of storytelling as a tool to educate on both the challenges facing Guatemala’s mothers and the providers that support them.
Our advocacy work and filmmaking is focused on growing support for this model of care, and highlighting the solutions that can change the equation for Guatemala’s Indigenous women.
Asociación Corazón del Agua trains parteras (professional midwives) in the country’s first university-level degree program. This first-of-its-kind program recruits Indigenous students from regions with high maternal mortality rates and incorporates Indigenous traditions around pregnancy and birth, including plant-based medicine. Corazón also seeks to advance the profession of midwifery through the development of the country’s first association of professional midwives.
ACAM is a collective of comadronas (traditional midwives) formed to address the need for high-quality professional education and training of Indigenous midwives and their recognition and integration into the health care system. Through their birth center and mobile clinics, ACAM comadronas provide critically-needed safe and respectful maternity care and referrals for Indigenous women and communities in the department of Quetzaltenango in the western highlands of Guatemala.
We also use storytelling, filmmaking, and data and research to share challenges, opportunities and advocacy goals. In Guatemala, we focus our storytelling on how our partners are advancing maternal health for Indigenous mothers, and the importance of midwifery. Watch the latest below.