Skip to main content
Mesoamerican endemic Nephropathy (MeN) a humanitarian crisis in Guatemala


War in Gaza:: find out how we're responding
Learn more
Chronic kidney disease is one of the main public health problems in Guatemala.

In August 2021, we launched our Mesoamerican nephropathy* project to address the high levels of chronic kidney disease in the country. We work in early detection, patient care and health promotion.

In Quetzaltenango, Guatemala’s second-largest city, we run a project that focuses on assisting migrants. Our mobile teams work in different areas in the region, where we provide a range of services to cater for the needs of people on the move, whether travelling north towards Mexico and the United States, or returning home, such as the large number of deported Guatemalans. 

*Nephropathy is the deterioration of kidney function

Our activities in 2022 in Guatemala

Data and information from the International Activity Report 2022

MSF in Guatemala in 2022 In Guatemala, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) continues to run a project providing care for people with chronic kidney disease, and activities to support migrants transiting the country.
Guatemala IAR map 2022

Since 2021, we have been focusing on our Mesoamerican nephropathy project* to strengthen the response to non-traditional chronic kidney disease. According to data from the Ministry of Health, there are more than 10,000 patients undergoing renal function replacement treatment in Guatemala – a country with one of the highest death rates from chronic kidney failure in the Americas (14 per 100,000). 

Our teams worked in three municipalities in Escuintla department, an area almost entirely given over to large-scale plantations. The main activities of the project are early detection, treatment, mental health and social support and palliative care. We also run health promotion and education activities to increase knowledge of the disease and promote prevention measures at community level.  

Guatemala is also a hotspot for migration flows in Central America. Thousands of people transit the country every day on their way north towards Mexico and the US, or returning to their home countries after being deported. 

In 2022, we sent two mobile teams to different sites in San Marcos and Huehuetenango departments, where we provided medical and psychological care, as well as health promotion and social support, to migrants. 

At the end of the year, we started to offer these same mobile services in Ciudad Tecún Umán, a city close to the border with Mexico, working at the bus station, the migrants’ shelter, and the centre for returnees. Like all MSF activities in Mexico and Central America, the project has a strong advocacy component, mainly targeting repressive US migration policies and calling for greater access to care, particularly mental health services, and protection from violence for migrants. 

*Mesoamerican nephropathy (MeN), sometimes also called chronic kidney disease (CKD) of unknown cause (CKDu) or CKD of non-traditional cause (CKDnT), refers to CKD that presents in young agricultural workers, primarily in Central America, in the absence of any clear aetiology. 


In 2022
Kidney Screening

MSF highlights urgent need to care for patients with chronic kidney disease

Project Update 17 Apr 2024
Mesoamerican endemic Nephropathy (MeN) a humanitarian crisis in Guatemala

Fighting chronic kidney disease in southern Guatemala

Project Update 11 Aug 2022
Central American Migration

Report: No way out - The humanitarian crisis for Central American migrants and asylum seekers

Report 11 Feb 2020
 MSF on the migration route to Mexico
Central American Migration

“Mexico is not an option for my family to stay”

Project Update 24 May 2019
Desperate journey: Fleeing invisible wars in Central America
Central American Migration

"Leaving the country to seek asylum is often the only option for survival"

Interview 29 Oct 2018
Exodus - Mexico
Central American Migration

Forced to flee Central America's Northern Triangle: A Neglected Humanitarian Crisis

Report 12 May 2017