Health Status of Guatemala

What must be done to intervene and ensure that history does not repeat itself for future
populations? This week, you examine the impact of the historical roots of social disparities
on health of populations in Africa and Latin America. As you go through this week’s
Learning Resources, think about what we can learn from history. This week, you consider
developing a policy in a country you selected and think about various issues in practicing
population health.


The health status of every population in any country is a crucial towards the development
of this country. A healthy population will be able to work together and constitute in development
of the country while an unhealthy population will drag behind in development as more time is
taken to improve this status. The health status, therefore, remains as a tough challenge in most of
the developing countries most especially African countries and the Latin America (Frey,&
Temple, 2009). Importantly, these countries are mostly faced with intellectual disabilities (ID)
and thus, call for the nee of establishing national initiatives to handle this exclusive health need
of its population. As such, this paper will focus on the health status of Guatemala country as one
of the Latin American country, discuss the social factors affecting its health status and elaborate
on public concerns that might be encountered when addressing the health literacy and cultural
awareness. Moreover, the paper will look into the relationship between the life expectancy and
health inequities of this country as well as the efforts made by this country to improve its health
Guatemala is the biggest and most populated country amongst the Central American
countries. The population of this country is rapidly growing and young that is mainly a rural

based population. However, it has been noted as a country with the poorest social outcomes
compared to other Latin American countries as most of its children below five years suffer from
chronic starvation and about 290 women pass away from the pregnancy difficulties (Centre for
Economic and Social Rights [CESR], 2014). In addition, it has the lowest human progress that is
based in terms of health, life expectancy and education outcomes as compared to the other
As such, the health status of this country calls for serious attention to the whole globe and
the associated professionals (CESR, 2014).In response to this, ICEFI
(InstitutoCentroamericano de EstudiosFiscales)That is a research body was formed. Together
with Guatemalan specialists were mandated to research on the various ways to improve the
political economy and health state of this country. After the research was conducted, a report was
laid down that resolved that failure of economic progress and failure to realize the political rights
of the Guatemalans was due to lack of political will by the ruling government to contribute more
in preserving those rights (CESR, 2014).
Congruently, most of the Guatemalans are living in poverty especially, those in rural
areas. Despite putting more effort in improving the health situations in Guatemala, it still remains
to be amongst the countries that are having higher maternal mortality rate in Central America
(CESR, 2014). The leading cause of this is the poor allocation of resources to the maternal health
by the state making it hard to monitor and implement the right heath measures in the country.
The advancement of poor health situation in Guatemala has been accelerated by various
factors that directly or indirectly favor these poor health status. Apparently, the major social
determinants of health status in Guatemala is the political and socioeconomic factors (Marini,

2010). These factors comprises of the wide set of cultural, functional and structural features of
social system that highly influence the people’s health on a daily basis. Further, the daily
happenings on an individual also affect their health status as it is through this that determines the
types of diseases that one contract. Additionally, society work plays a vital role in fighting or
boosting the health status of any country and, therefore, it’s the role of the society set up
organizations that aid in health promotion, treatment of diseases and disease prevention.
However, the socioeconomic state of Guatemala is poorly run in that most of the people are poor
especially those living in rural areas and, therefore, it is hard to set-up organizationsthat creates
awareness to the members of the society.
Moreover, the political context of any country can either worsen the health status or make
it better. This solely depends on the ruling governance, public policies, societal values and
microeconomic policies (World Health Organization [WHO], 2012). It is the governmental role
to make sure that there are sufficient resources in all health institutions. As such, poor
governance in Guatemala aids in the deteriorating poor health services where there is under-
funding of health institutions leading to poor service provision (WHO, 2012).
Correspondingly, the structure of the society influence the health status of every country
that cuts across the making of the society as well as its cultural and social believes. Through this
societal structure that determines what the society takes as good for them and what it abandons.
Moreso, the social position of every individual determines how they get the access of the health
services. This incorporates the education level and the income level of every individual is what
regulates how each gets access of the health services. In Guatemala, the largest percentage of the
sick people are poor and they are not in a position of accessing better health services as they are
low-income earners(WHO, 2012).

Similarly, gender variation amongst the society plays a critical role in health due to its
crucial effects on the development of hierarchies in the allocation of resources and division of
labor (Ishida, 2009). Most of the jobs are allocated depending on the sex, and different values
allocated to those roles for them to access and have control over crucial social protection
possessions including; employment, education, and health services. Evidently, in Guatemala
death rate is different across the gender since more women tend to die than men (Ishida, 2012).
This trend is experienced as more deaths are caused by pregnancy complications.
To control all these problems, there rises need to educate the public on the health matters
and create awareness to the community on the matters concerning their health. This is one of the
ways that can be used to overcome all these un-favoring health determinants. As such, nurses are
mandated to go out in the field, interact with the public, educate them and provide health care to
them. However, despite this effort by every government, nurses and other professionals are faced
with various difficulties as they carry out their awareness programs due to serving varied
population of patients (Wittner, 2012). Amongst the many challenges facing nurses are based on
the linguistic, language and literacy levels among the patients and members of the public.
Although in the nurses are taught on how to handle all the difficulties associated with patients,
this remains a difficult task to handle a diversified population of patients (Singleton, 2009).
Cultural competence being the skills of providers and organizations being in a position of
distributing effective health care services without inconveniencing any patient is yet affected by
this diversified population of the patients (Wittner, 2012). Due language barriers and low level of
health literacy amongst the patients and members of the public, it becomes hard for the nurses to
provide culturally competent services. Also, due to low literacy amongst the patients, it becomes

hard for them to read any instructions given by physicians and during public awareness (Wittner,
Moreso, the cultural beliefs of every society plays a serious role in provision of the
culturally competent services and, therefore, it is very important for the ones involved in
providing these services to understand the culture of the public they are serving. In Guatemala,
all these factors limits the interaction time between the service offers and the patients thus
risking the lives of the patients suffering from chronic diseases who need more time. Equally,
lack of cultural competence leads to the provision of poor health services and lack of satisfaction
of the offered services due to low quality of patient to doctor interaction.

Finally, creation of awareness towards the public is in Guatemala is also
challenged by the health care practices and beliefs in that some ethnic groups in the country does
not believe in the science-oriented things (Baum, 2008). Therefore, this poses a great challenge
to the people implementing the awareness programs to convince these people that workability of
their mission. This becomes a hard task when dealing with the mentally challenged patients who
believe that mental illness is brought by possession of evil spirits and, therefore means that the
personnel dealing with such a person must fully understand the belief of every patient and be in a
position of interfering with their beliefs in the correct way as they treat them.

It’s vividly clear that in the hardship associated in accessing the health services in
Guatemala is led by unequal distribution of resources amongst its citizens. As such, it is simple
for some people to settle hospital bills and access health services even from private hospitals
whereas it is hard for others to access public hospitals (WHO, 2012). As a result, life inequity
and social exclusion come up which tends to hinder the vast majority of the people from
accessing better health services (Wright, 2009). Importantly, life inequities remain as the main

hindrance in the provision better and improved health conditions in Guatemala. Significantly, life
inequality is distributed on the basis of the socioeconomic levels of lives where the mortality rate
of poor people is double than that of well-being people (Wright, 2009).
The life expectancy amongst the Guatemalans is also based on the life inequity, where
the percentage of successful births is high for the rich people unlike for the poor ones (Jones,
2010). Moreover, the dissemination education amongst varies on the basis of the income
distribution implying that children from well-being families gets quality education that improves
their level of literacy. Besides, the increasing elderly population in Guatemala does not mean that
they are living a comfortable life. The old population combined with the declining fertility rate in
Guatemala has led to the deterioration of the economic, health and social life of the Guatemalans
more is incurred when taking care of this old population (Jones, 2010). Consequentially, it is the
role of the state government to minimize the gap between the living standards of the
Guatemalans that will in turn boost their health, social and economic life.
Despite all these health challenges affecting the Guatemalan, its government has put
several projects in an attempt of improving the health condition of its citizens. After the passing
of the peace contracts in 1996, the new constitution of the Guatemalan stated that it an
elementary right for every citizen to have access of a health care (Pena, 2013). Though it has
remained a hard task for the government to implement this right, this government has tried to
improve the health condition of its health institutions (Johnson, 2013). It has achieved this by
improving its Ministry of Public Health and by involving other non-governmental organizations
in the provision of better health services to its citizens. Moreover, the government setup a
program (Expansion of Coverage program) that aims at improving the access of nutrition and
health services to the poor people residing in the rural areas (World Bank Group [WBG], 2014).

The program is implemented through the collaboration of government and various NGO’s where
they are aiming at ensuring that they overcome the dominating life inequity amongst the poor


In general, therefore, the health state of any country solely depends on the ruling
government that is held responsible for the provision of better health services and ensuring that
they are easily accessible to every citizen. Also, the government should increase the number of
professional doctors in the public hospitals to reduce the number of un-attended patients and to
be able to handle the large population of the country. Similarly, for the health services and
conditions of Guatemala to improve, the issue of life inequity must be handled and its effects
controlled so as to improve its life expectancy. Consistently, cultural competence in the country
as well as literacy and language barrier need to be addressed. In turn, this will ease the doctor’s
and all involved party work as well as make public awareness effective thus, making the
functionality of health institutions efficient.



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Ishida, K.S., (2012). International Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health: Ethnic
Inequality in Guatemalan Women’s Use of Modern Reproductive Health Care. In-Print.
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Johnson, C.D.,(2013). Social capital: theory, measurement and outcomes. Nova Science
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Expansion of Coverage Program (PEC): The Case of Guatemala. Universal Health
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The World Bank Group, (2014). Improving Access to The Health Care Services through the
Expansion of Coverage Program: The Case of Guatemala
Singleton, K.,& Krause, E.,(2009). “Understanding Cultural and Linguistic Barriers to Health
Wittner, J.G.,& Root, J.,(2012). Gendered Worlds. Oxford University Press, USA: New York.
World Health Organization, (2012). Health in the Americas: Health Determinants and
World Health Organization,(2012). Dementia a public health priority. World Health
Organization: Geneva
Wright, L.E.,(2009). Diet, health, and status among the Pasión Maya: A reappraisal of the
collapse. Vanderbilt University Press: Nashville.

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