WINGS Mobile Unit

WINGS Guatemala

WINGS Mobile Unit before clinic in Alta Verapaz

WINGS is a non-profit organization providing quality reproductive health education and services, with a focus on low-income, rural, Indigenous Guatemalans. Since its founding in 2001, WINGS has provided 315,495 youth, women, and men with sexual and reproductive health information and services. The organization estimates that it has prevented 286,625 unintended pregnancies, 1,614 infant deaths, and 103 maternal deaths.

About 75% of Guatemala’s indigenous population lives in poverty. And about 92% of WINGS patients are in rural areas, with one in three women lacking access to reproductive health services.

By coming to patients at the community level, WINGS narrows the gaps in reproductive health care between urban and rural residents. The organization ensures access to quality, affordable reproductive health services using a network of volunteer health promoters, mobile medical units, and stationary clinics. This network provides educational talks, private counseling, short- and long-acting reversible contraception (LARC), cervical cancer screenings, and permanent sterilization procedures.

Youth trainer staff have held training sessions with youth leaders via WhatsApp, allowing the youth leaders (ages 13-19) to bring accurate reproductive health information and service referrals to their peers through community-based activities. Nursing staff that speaks Indigenous languages have volunteered to be part of a nationwide resource to respond to callers needing resources and information about Covid-19.

Get to know WINGS

Dr. Michelle Dubón, Medical Director at WINGS

Since 2015, Dr. Dubón has overseen all technical aspects of clinical services provided by WINGS. She has been in practice since 2004 and has specialized in OB-GYN services since 2008. Along with providing administrative oversight, Dr. Dubón works with three other surgeons to provide tubal ligations and vasectomies, making WINGS one of the few places in Guatemala that anyone over 18 can get permanent contraception without a partner’s consent or proof of multiple children. Michelle was part of the 2019 class of the Aspen Institute New Voices Fellowship, a group of 25 leaders from the Global South who work on the front lines of global development and health. Dr. Dubón has also been instrumental in assuring that WINGS meets the highest international standards of surgical health care.

Photo of Michelle Dubon

WINGS Mobile Unit Team preparing to depart from Antigua office

A regular week for the WINGS mobile teams starts on Monday, prepping and packing the vehicle with all the clinical supplies that will be needed for the scheduled clinic days that week. On Tuesday morning, the team of nurses, along with the driver, go to their first day-long pop-up clinic. Once they arrive at their destination, sometimes after hours of navigating challenging roads, they provide education and LARCs to 10-20 women. They repeat this process, traveling to the next community each evening until returning to Antigua headquarters on Friday. The whole process begins again the next week!

WINGS Mobile Unit Team, Antigua

WINGS Nurse Keily inserting subdermal hormonal implant

The nurses that form the backbone of the WINGS clinical team are highly trained and perform all LARC insertions independently. WINGS spends three months training new nurses, making each one an incredible investment of knowledge and skill. Many WINGS nurses live hours away from the headquarters in Antigua, traveling home on the weekends, but spending the week providing services either in the Antigua clinic or though a mobile unit.

WINGS Nurse Keily Inserting Hormonal Implant

WINGS Nurse Ely giving talk to community members

Each pop-up clinic begins with an educational talk, or charla. The WINGS nurse explains basic anatomy, pregnancy, and how contraception works so that each woman is able to choose the best contraceptive method for her. WINGS does not use coercive techniques to encourage women to choose specific methods over others. Rather, each individual has an opportunity to ask questions, change their mind, or even decide NOT to get a method. This is all part of WINGS’ rights-based, patient-centered approach.

WINGS Nurse Ely Giving Talk

Featured Presentations

“Reproductive Rights Are Human Rights: It All Begins With Reproductive Rights”

“Population, Reproductive Health, and Climate Resiliency: Views From Latin America and East Africa”

WINGS in the Time of COVID-19