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MNCH: Canadians visit Guatemala for knowledge-exchange - live blog!

Raul Scorza blog

Raúl Scorza
Community Outreach and Communications Coordinator

After a brief hiatus, Horizon’s maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH) blog is back! This time, it will follow the travels, experiences and stories of ten Canadian health professionals who will head to Guatemala this Sunday and participate in Horizons’ ten-day MNCH knowledge-exchange.

The team of Canadians, consisting of midwives, nurses and an obstetrician, represents cities and towns from across Ontario and British Columbia. Residents of Ottawa, Toronto, Peterborough, Cobourg, Waterloo, Brockville, Kingston and Victoria, British Columbia, these Canadian healthcare providers will learn first-hand about the challenging maternal and child health realities in Totonicapán, Guatemala – and how Horizons’ project alongside its Guatemalan partner, the Association for Health Promotion, Research and Education (PIES), is improving MNCH in this predominantly Indigenous Maya K’iche’ province and transforming the lives of Indigenous women, children and families.

Participants in the Canadian knowledge-exchange team include:

Betty-Anne Daviss – Registered midwife in Ontario and Quebec residing in Ottawa, with extensive experience in national and international midwifery settings.
Dr. Paul Caldwell – Family physician who has provided family practice obstetrics at the Northumberland Hills Hospital in Cobourg for 40 years.
Heather Mason – Registered midwife, co-owner of a midwifery practice in Brockville and Head Midwife at the Brockville General Hospital.
Janis Herold – Registered midwife working in Waterloo, with additional experience as a childbirth educator, infant massage instructor and breastfeeding advocate.
 Joanne Gillies – Registered midwife working in Victoria, B.C., who recently worked as a locum midwife in a primarily-Inuit community in Nunavut.
Taryn Woolsey – Registered midwife in Northumberland County and the Durham Region with experience providing care to incarcerated women and domestic/sexual abuse survivors.
Tia Sarkar – Registered midwife in Toronto who has served on the College of Midwives and various committees on the Canadian Association of Midwives, as well as worked with internationally educated midwives at Ryerson University.
Michelle Verbeem – Registered and primary care nurse with the Northumberland Family Health Team in Cobourg.
Patti Tracey – Registered nurse and professor with the Trent/Fleming School of Nursing at Trent University in Peterborough, with experience as a clinician, educator and researcher.
Wendy Kelen – Registered nurse with the Kingston Community Health Centres and lecturer at Queen’s University, with experience in maternal-newborn health education.

PIES health educators walk towards a rural village

The Canadian exchange team will visit rural communities alongside traditional midwives and health educators

Accompanying Guatemalan traditional Indigenous Maya K'iche' midwives in the delivery of their day-to-day care. Observing the medical attention provided to Indigenous Maya K’iche’ families in maternal-child care health centers. Following health educators as they carry out their health home visits in rural communities. These are just some of the activities in which the Canadian team will participate, learning from and exchanging knowledge with key actors that are helping strengthen MNCH in Totonicapán through this project, which is funded in large part by Global Affairs Canada.

Being the first of five knowledge-exchanges that will take place as part of the MNCH project – and preceding the first of five visits to Canadian cities and towns, including Toronto, the Clarington region, Cobourg, Peterborough, Kingston and Ottawa, by a group of Guatemalan traditional Indigenous Maya K’iche’ midwives and other health providers in late March – this exchange will help pave the way for advocacy that calls for greater international cooperation to improve MNCH, addressing global health from a social justice perspective, and respect and recognition of Indigenous approaches to health.

Follow our live blog by visiting our website, our Facebook page and our Twitter often - we'll be posting on Instagram, too! - and share the experiences and stories we will bring back to you. See you soon!

For more information or to become involved, please contact Raúl Scorza at rscorza@horizons.ca.

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