Guatemala 1998

Support for street children International staff: 17 National staff: 88 With public health expenditure well below the average for Latin America, only 34% of the population has access to health care and water-related diseases are common. In Guatemala City, MSF continues to provide medical and psychological assistance in a day centre for adolescent street-children. MSF also ensures that adolescents in five detention centres have access to appropriate medical and psychological care and that their legal rights are respected. MSF encouraged the setting-up of a medical nursery for under-fives to help deal with large-scale problems of malnutrition, poor physical and mental health and mistreatment in the shantytown of Lomas de Santa Fez. Parents are kept closely involved so as to help them resolve family problems and improve child-rearing abilities. STD/HIV/AIDS prevention programmes are underway in the shantytowns of Milagro and Mezquital. In March 1998, MSF completed a community health programme to improve access to health care for the rural population in Izabal district. This included training, supervision and support for healthcare workers and traditional midwives, encouragement for using plants in traditional medicines and support for an independent system making basic medicines available at low prices. Other activities covered mother-and-child health, health education, the organisation and supervision of vaccination programmes, and water and sanitation projects (latrines, drains, waste collections). MSF provides medical support as part of three processing programmes underway for refugees returning to Peten.