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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Woman (right) holds an IUD at a WINGS mobile clinic. IUDs are LARCs—Long-Acting Reversible Contraceptives—offered by WINGS.
Photo Credit: WINGS Guatemala
A group of WINGS Youth Peer Education Program members hold a variety of contraceptive methods to discuss with their peers.
Photo Credit: WINGS Guatemala