USAID’s Health and Nutrition Project partnered with the Guatemalan Government and private educational institutions to create a professional midwifery program to recruit, educate, and mentor young indigenous women to provide health services in their communities. The program provides a comprehensive education for young women to learn the midwifery skills needed to serve and address healthcare challenges in their communities.
Young women, like Sophia, speak the local language, understand and incorporate cultural birth practices, and understand modesty and gender concerns, improving trust and access to care. Like Sophia, participants are from local communities and attend a nearby university, which strengthens the young women’s ties to the area. USAID partnered with the Ministry of Health, which guarantees an employment opportunity upon completion of the program. Sofia, who graduated Valedictorian from the program at Da Vinci University in Huehuetenango, is the first woman in her family to go to University, breaking long held biases against women getting an education.
More than six million people In Guatemala, approximately 35 percent of the country’s population, lack access to basic health and nutrition services. USAID programs improve human resources for health by supporting the training and development of health providers, like Sofia, and strengthening the health system to ensure that community needs and cultural patterns are respected.
USAID works with communities on health and nutrition issues as well as the adoption of healthy behaviors such as breastfeeding, hand washing, nutrition, adequate birth spacing, gender-based violence (GBV) prevention, safe sexual practices, and responsible fatherhood. USAID’s efforts to reduce preventable maternal and child deaths while simultaneously providing meaningful employment opportunities contributes to the Root Causes Strategy of the United States government to address the drivers of irregular migration.