MNCH: Participate in the Second Canada-Guatemala Knowledge-Exchange!
Horizons is thrilled to invite the next group of Canadian maternal and child health practitioners, experts and advocates to participate in its second Canada-to-Guatemala knowledge-exchange, planned for February 17-26, 2018.
These exchanges form part of an ambitious, four-year Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (MNCH) project, with support from Global Affairs Canada and led by our local partner PIES (the Association for Health Promotion, Research and Education), that is improving the delivery and use of MNCH services for thousands of Indigenous Maya K’iche’ women, children and families in the province of Totonicapán, Guatemala.
Knowledge and experiences will be shared between Canadians vocationally concerned with MNCH and Guatemalan MNCH providers and leaders, including traditional Indigenous midwives. Canadian participants will therefore learn first-hand of the challenging MNCH realities Indigenous Maya K’iche’ communities and health providers face in Totonicapán, a predominantly Indigenous province with one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the country, and how the project is helping overcome them – training over 1,000 traditional Indigenous Maya K’iche’ midwives in culturally-pertinent MNCH best practices, providing essential medicines and equipment to dozens of severely undersupplied health centres, executing a wide-ranging health promotion campaign and more.
The exchange is not designed to be service-based, as is common in medical brigades. Rather, it will provide an opportunity for participants to approach MNCH through a social justice lens and go beyond a ‘technical’ medical intervention.
Not only will the exchange team shadow traditional Indigenous midwives and PIES health educators as they perform home visits in rural villages, and observe the care provided in formal health institutions. The team will also learn about the historic and systemic inequalities that have marginalized Indigenous peoples in Guatemala and contributed to alarming MNCH gaps, while understanding the crucial need for culturally-pertinent care given a virtually all-Maya K’iche’ population.
Knowledge-sharing under the exchange is thus a fundamentally reciprocal process that will take place between equals – be they traditional Indigenous midwives, doctors, nurses, public health experts, community health educators or even Maya priests. Horizons firmly believes in the importance of Indigenous approaches to health, and is convinced that by rescuing and respectfully promoting them, spaces for traditional and Western medicine to coexist and learn from one another can be created.
After an incredibly successful first exchange, 10 Canadian participants became committed to fostering long-term solidarity with their Maya K’iche’ and Guatemalan counterparts thanks to this experience. These are some of their testimonies:
All Canadian professionals that work in an MNCH-related field or are prominent advocates that support MNCH can apply to the second exchange. This includes, but is not limited to: family doctors, OBGYN professionals, pediatricians, midwives, nurses, community health workers, public health personnel, researchers, community leaders or gender equality experts.
Horizons will release a call for participants in early August, with full details and a link to an online application. If you would like to learn more about the exchange, and join the applicant distribution list, please contact Raúl Scorza at firstname.lastname@example.org / 905-372-5483 / 1-888-729-9928 [ext. 24 for both].
Thank you to our individual and organizational donors, whose support makes this important project possible.