GNE Board members Wendy R. and Martina R. went to the Guatemala Department of Jalapa in the second week of March with the Faith in Practice (FIP) team from Corvallis.FIP conducts outreach medicine and gynecology services to rural villages.640 clients came the first day.The patient volume is so high that medical providers do not have the time to provide needed patient education.Therefore clients are referred to a separate room to meet in small groups with a nurse educator.
The three GNE nutrition apps in Spanish (General Nutrition, Nutrition in Pregnancy and Healthy Kids Eat Smart) were made available to the clients in the education room.We also took the apps in development on hypertension and diabetes. Medical providers prescribed the applications to certain patients.The applications were well-received by the patients
GNE has been taking tablets with the Corvallis-based FIP team for three years now.We have discovered that it is better to have the tablets in a separate room where the patients can view the apps after they have seen the medical providers and before they go to the pharmacy to receive their prescriptions.The area where patients are waiting to be seen by medical providers is too noisy and the patients are too distracted to view the apps at that time.We have also found that it is better to have a dedicated Spanish-speaking volunteer in the room to help patients use the tablets and answer any questions.
As the perils of the COVID pandemic became better recognized, FIP decided to pull its volunteers out of Guatemala early and we departed on Friday.Guatemala closed its borders to entry that weekend. While statistics in Guatemala are hard to come by, COVID infection apparently has not been a terrible problem yet.However, the people that rely on tourism for income have been idled.Food insecurity is now a bigger problem than ever.
In March, 2020, I went to Guatemala as a medical volunteer and was reminded once again of why I support GNE.
I went as part of a Faith in Practice team based in Chicago.At the last minute they found themselves in need of a physician to oversee a “wheelchair clinic.”I answered the call and was off on another adventure for which I was little qualified, but well-suited in attitude. The goal of our nine-member team was to assess mobility challenges and provide advice, equipment and referrals to improve quality of life by improving mobility.Over 4 days we accomplished our goal in part by distributing 96 wheelchairs, 22 walkers and 26 canes.
The range of cases spanned everything from congenital problems to polio, tuberculosis, infirmity and terminal illness.Some of the clients literally arrived being carried by a family member and left with big smiles in their new wheelchair.Most touching were the children and their devoted families.While not diagnosing problems, I recognized conditions we would call cerebral palsy, hydrocephalus and spina bifida.How many of these were related to malnutrition during pregnancy?How many could have been prevented if only the people had known about the importance of proper nutrition for good health?
GNE recognizes that people are at risk for malnutrition worldwide.While we can’t feed the world, we can educate them about the important role of nutrition in their health and help them make better choices.This is GNE’s mission and I am fully committed to it.
Peter K. MD
For one week in November, 2019, GNE joined with Faith in Practice (FIP) on a village medical mission trip to Guatemala.GNE members Wendy R. Martina R. and Peter K. took tablets with nutrition education apps in Spanish to share with clients in the education room.
The group of 40 nurses, doctors, pharmacists and translators assembled in Antigua where we met with the FIP staff for orientation and a tour of the patient guest house Casa de Fey before exploring delightful Antigua.The next day we travelled by bus to Retalhuleu where we would be staying for the next 5 nights in the government-run resort IRTRA.Along the way we stopped to set up for the 2-day clinic at the first village, Flores Costa Cuca.Utilizing a school we arranged rooms for Gynecology, Cryo, Pediatrics, General Medicine, Dental, Education and Pharmacy.Check-in and triage would be in the courtyard.
On Monday the work began.We saw 441 clients that day, a hint of more to come.Patients with chronic illnesses like diabetes and hypertension were referred to the education room where they also had a chance to view the GNE apps.
On Wednesday we moved operations to a second clinic site in the village of San Marco Del Palmera for two more busy days of clinics.All told we served 2129 patients in 4 days.
Friday we dismantled and repacked before returning to Antigua for the night and departing to Guatemala City and points beyond on Saturday.
GNE is fortunate to have this partnership with FIP serving the people of rural Guatemala.The program is well run, safe and secure.Patients receive needed medical evaluations, advice, education and referrals.This provides a golden opportunity for nutrition education.Adding apps on diabetes and hypertension will expand the impact GNE can have.