The Salud y Paz Surgical Missions Program started in 2003 as a response to the tremendous need for low-cost tertiary care in the highlands of Guatemala. In the years since the initiation of the program, Salud y Paz has been able to increase access to general and specialty surgical services, preventing long periods of time waiting for surgery and increasing quality of life for the patient and their family unit.
At this time, Salud y Paz is able to offer two fully functional operating rooms and a procedure room which include anesthesia machines, cautery, a vacuum ventilation system and uninterruptable power supply. In addition, we have general instrumentation, autoclaves, backup generator, and laboratory services available. We host a biomedical engineer onsite during surgery week, allowing us to ensure appropriate maintenance and prompt repairs on all machinery and instrumentation.
Volunteer surgical mission teams are asked to provide all of the necessary supplies and medications to complete their surgical mission. The Community Health and Surgery Coordinator works with volunteer team members to purchase necessary supplies in-country which cannot be imported through customs. In addition, we offer trained ancillary personnel who receive ongoing education and sustenance as a result of your collaboration. If the team so chooses, they are able to work alongside rural Guatemalans, empowering them to serve their own people. Such personnel include but are not limited to environmental services, laboratory technicians, sterilization technicians, reception, security, pastoral care and patient education specialists.
The Community Health and Surgery Coordinator also works to advertise the surgical mission and ensure sufficient numbers of patients. Coordination takes place amongst numerous for-profit and non-profit organizations throughout the country. Generally speaking, patients are evaluated by one of the Salud y Paz volunteer or staff providers prior to their surgical evaluation. As part of the Salud y Paz surgical mission, patients are empowered to seek appropriate follow-up care at one of our long-standing clinics.
In recent years, we have hosted a variety of volunteer surgical mission teams including general, gynecological, ophthalmological, ENT, plastics and maxillofacial surgical specialties who have operated on patients of all ages.
“Of all my 20 years of missions experience in developing countries around the world, Salud y Paz has the best organized program. I would return without hesitation to serve again.” [Dr. Kim Young, anesthesiologist, 2012]
We have received feedback from previous team members that our surgical program is one of the lowest-cost options in Guatemala for teams. Teams have added that because our clinic is in such a rural area, the need is more evident. Surgeons who visit us come primarily to help the people of rural Guatemala but also have said that their skill-set increases during their time of service as a result of working in this environment. The different set of resources here and the advanced pathology really challenges them to think out of the box and makes them a better surgeon.
For teams wishing to serve in Guatemala we offer a volunteer package and arrangement of all in country logistics; including transportation, translation and hotel arrangements. Surgery teams pay additional costs depending on resources used and medications ordered. All other charges are based on usage.