Guatemala has the highest birth rate in Central America with only 5.7 percent of women receiving prenatal care during their last trimester. As a result, maternal and infant mortality are the highest in the region. In 2005, the government passed the Law on Universal and Equitable Access to Family Planning Services (Decree 87-2005), that promises universal sexual health education in public schools and access to contraceptive methods for all Guatemalans of reproductive age. While a symbolic accomplishment for advocates of women’s health, the government is failing in its implementation of the law. To date, just over a third of women have ever used a modern birth control method, 28 percent of women report an unmet need for family planning and funding for maternal health services, reproductive health education and family planning are extremely limited.
At Manos Abiertas we offer a safe and welcoming health care environment where all services are provided for women by women. Honoring the woman as a whole person, we promote her ability to safely express, think, and make autonomous decisions about her health and the health of her family.
At Manos Abiertas we take a holistic approach to women’s health care and seek to address the sexual and reproductive health needs of women throughout their lifespan. By providing comprehensive health care services we pave the path for appropriate, specialized care during pregnancy, labor and delivery. For many women we serve, pregnancy marks their first contact with the health care system, which provides a valuable opportunity to promote not only safe pregnancies and deliveries, but also to address other vital aspects of women’s health including family planning, HIV/sexually transmitted infections, and cervical cancer prevention and treatment. After pregnancy, we aim to provide on-going services for mother and child and empower women to continue to make informed health care decisions, serving as models for their children, families and communities. By investing in individual women, we seek to build a healthier Guatemala.