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Pharmaceutical Donation Addresses Barriers to Health Care in Guatemala

Guatemala Blog Images

A shipment of pharmaceuticals, medical supplies, and medical equipment has arrived at medical clinics in Guatemala after leaving the Brother’s Brother Foundation warehouse in February. BBF’s on-the-ground partner, Food For The Poor, distributes the free resources to people who would otherwise be unable to afford them.

“We cannot stress enough the importance of this donation to us and to the many men and women who can now treat their medical conditions. These medicinal donations are truly invaluable to us.”  

Byron Paredes, FFTP’s in-country partner representative in Guatemala

Nearly 60% of Guatemalans live below the poverty line, making it difficult if not impossible for most people to afford basic medical care and medicine. People in the country’s rural areas, many of whom live in indigenous communities, face the added barrier of geographic isolation from health facilities and medical clinics.  

The Guatemalan government spends $271 per capita on health care, according to data from the World Health Organization. By comparison, the average health care expenditure among high-income countries is almost 25 times larger, at $6,177.

Without adequate government support, Guatemalans have been left to handle health crises on their own, a challenge that’s been exacerbated by overwhelming food insecurity. USAID reports that nearly half of all children in Guatemala under the age of five experience stunted growth, the fifth highest rate in the world.  

BBF’s shipment supplied clinics with medications used to treat dementia, diabetes, stomach ulcers and high cholesterol, among other conditions.

Maria Marta is one of the many people who have received medicine at no cost. She was recently diagnosed with diabetes and hyperlipidemia (high levels of fat in the blood), and left untreated, her symptoms were wreaking havoc on her mind and body.

“I learned of a clinic [at] the Order of Malta and they supplied the medicines that I needed for my medical condition. I have no words to express my gratitude.”

Maria Marta, a medicine recipient

Diabetes is the third leading cause of death in Guatemala, likely the result of high treatment costs and other barriers. A study published in the British Medical Journal earlier this year reports that 66% of diabetes patients in rural Guatemala describe treatment as a financial burden and 21% needed to take out loans or rely on family members to offset the cost.

Diabetics who don’t receive medical treatment are subjected to severe health consequences later on in life, including heart disease, kidney disease, and stroke.

“If there is one thing that our people ask for the most is medication, because we are nothing without our health and wellbeing,” Paredes said.  “We feel blessed to be able to partner with Food For The Poor and its donors [Brother’s Brother Foundation] to be able to deliver these vital medicines to people in need throughout our country.” 

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