The Casa Materna Rural Community Birthing Center: A New Paradigm for Achieving Equitable Coverage of Evidence-Based Maternal and Newborn Care for Indigenous Women in Rural Guatemala Through Task Shifting and Community Empowerment

Curamericas Global Inc.
Organization Location: 
Raleigh, North Carolina, USA

Appalling maternal and neonatal mortality afflict the rural indigenous people of Guatemala. Government health facilities are rarely used because they are neither physically accessible nor culturally acceptable to the indigenous population. Ministry of Health facilities are distant and difficult and costly to access. They do not reach out to communities to stimulate demand for their services, are open only during business hours, are not accountable to their communities, and Maya language and culture are ignored and even scorned by non-indigenous health workers. In contrast, the Casa Matera Rural is an easily-accessed culturally-adapted birthing center, built and owned by indigenous communities, that represents a low-cost alternative already showing its ability to reduce maternal mortality in this population. The Casa Materna Rural birthing center is strategically located for easy access and open 24/7. It is community built and operated and accountable to its end-users while generating demand for its services using mother peer-educators and respectful culturally-informed care in the Maya language from skilled Maya health workers. In a new context, this project will validate that this model can cost-effectively increase coverage of maternal/newborn services and reduce maternal and neonatal mortality to levels not previously achieved in that context and thereby secure the support of the Ministry of Health for scale-up and larger-scale testing.