A prescription for better health in Guatemala
Patients and family members in Hospitalito Atitlán’s waiting room watch a DVD describing steps they can take to live healthier lives. Photo courtesy of the Rotary Club of Guatemala Norte
A global grant project that provided neonatal medical equipment to a Guatemalan hospital is helping to safeguard the lives of newborns and educating community residents about preventive health.
The US$54,322 project -- sponsored by the Rotary clubs of Guatemala Norte and Sunnyvale, California, USA -- provided Hospitalito Atitlán in Santiago Atitlán an oxygen generator, infant incubator, and diagnostic devices, along with training to hospital staff in how to use and maintain the equipment.
As part of the effort, the Guatemala Norte club arranged for production of an educational DVD in Tz’utujil, the language spoken by the local Mayan community. Shown in the hospital’s waiting room, the DVD covers nutrition, common illnesses, maternal and child health, hygiene, and issues such as alcoholism and domestic violence. That component of the project was inspired by the success of a previous Matching Grant effort involving the two clubs, which had distributed an educational DVD on health-related topics to a different Mayan community.
Funded under the Future Vision pilot, the effort supports Rotary’s disease prevention and treatment area of focus. Its impact, sponsors say, will reduce the number of people requiring medical care for routine, preventable conditions and enable the hospital’s doctors to focus on treating patients with more serious health problems.
“As all patients generally are accompanied by several family members, the impact and delivery of the messages are guaranteed,” says Josef Fischer, a Guatemala Norte Rotarian with the Hospitalito Atitlán project. “The idea was to re-create situations in their everyday environment [as realistically as possible], so they are able to identify themselves in individual scenes.” Fischer says the DVD is also used in other clinics and by the regional health department and churches.
In addition, the video will be shown in the town’s municipal auditorium, and has the potential to reach 45,000 community residents through local cable TV. It also could be adapted for use in other communities in Central America and southern Mexico, say the project’s sponsors.
The video’s messages are “excellent” and present many new ideas for Santiago Atitlán, says Lyn Dickey, a representative of a community foundation that operates the hospital.
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