Project Salud y Paz began in 2001 with one dentist working out of a small clinic in Camanchaj. Today, Salud y Paz operates three clinics on a regular basis, spread approximately four hours apart from the far northern reaches of El Quiche to the western highlands of Sololá. The main clinic, our Camanchaj campus, is open Monday through Wednesday. The secondary clinic in Nahuala, Sololá, opened in June 2016 on Thursdays and Fridays thanks to our partners in ministry, Fe y Amor. The third clinic is in a remote community known as Cunen, and is currently open one weekend a month.
The Salud y Paz clinics are staffed by Guatemalan professionals: two medical doctors, one dentist, one dental assistant, two pharmacists, two nurses, one lab technician and a host of support staff. Together they saw over 12,000 patients in 2015.
All clinics offer primary medical and dental care as well as lab work and prescribed medication, for a very small fee. Patient donations toward their own care not only promotes autonomy, but encourages them to follow medical advice, use prescribed medications, and consider lifestyle changes that may positively affect their health. The patient contribution does not exceed Q50 (about $6) and is waved if the patient cannot afford it.
Our patients come from miles around and even other states. They begin to line up early in the morning and some
who travel longer distances spend the night at the campus so as not to travel in the dark before or after an appointment. In the first half of 2016, the most common illnesses treated at our clinics were: diabetes, hypertension, bacterial vaginosis, respiratory infections, peptic acid disorders including those caused by H. pylori, and hernias. Other common illnesses treated include arthritis, back pain, gastritis, parasites, and allergies.
Some patients who come to the clinics suffer from diseases that our clinics are not equipped to treat or that require further testing to provide an accurate diagnosis. These patients are referred to our social worker, who helps them navigate the complicated and often substandard options for health care. In certain cases, we are able to help offset the cost of finding care in other locations using funds from our Patient Assistance Fund.