Guatemala Community Health Work Team (130629GUWK)
This community health project work team will work alongside an indigenous community in the Alta Verapaz department of Guatemala, outside the city of Cobán. They will help build either improved ventilated cook stoves or improved latrines for the local families.
According to the Medical Teams International project proposal, “the main causes of morbidity in children 5 and under are respiratory infections (41% of death) and diarrhea (17% of deaths).” Only 45% of the families in the 22 communities in which Medical Teams International works have pit latrines. This means over half of the families practice open defecation near their homes, water sources, and in fields around the community. This unsanitary practice spreads disease via the transfer of particulate fecal matter to food by flies or to the mouth via hands. Improved pit latrines coupled with education have changed this behavior and improved the health of children in communities that have built the new latrines.
Additionally, many of these Guatemalan families still cook on open flames in their huts, which is a major contributor to respiratory infections in women and children. The improved stove will properly ventilate smoke out of the home and help prevent future respiratory problems. The stove also burns less wood at significantly hotter temperatures, preventing further deforestation in the region. Additionally, women spend less time scavenging and hauling wood. So far, these stoves have been wildly popular with the communities. The following link is a 16-minute video describing the full benefits of these stoves: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U_e0vOfjvH0.
For more photos and personal experiences of Medical Teams International work teams in Guatemala check out our Medical Teams International - Guatemala Facebook page.