For Todos Santos – a remote Mayan community located in the Guatemalan highlands – the only veterinary services available come once a year in the form of the GAAP’s veterinary campaign.
Since the beginning of the project, we have noticed a clear change in the community’s behavior towards their animals. They’re much more connected to their pets’ needs and they have become accustomed to seeking advice and assistance from veterinarians.
We have witnessed a growing demand for ongoing availability of veterinary services. However, attracting qualified veterinarians from the city to live in Todos Santos would be extremely difficult as there are very few public services and amenities, and high rates of poverty.
Given that veterinarians are not interested in living in this remote setting, we decided to use local knowledge to fill this niche by offering basic first aid and medical training to a local person with a demonstrated keen interest and commitment to animal welfare.
The goal of this project is to train a community health worker to offer year-round basic veterinary care to rural and isolated areas such as Todos Santos.
The project contemplates theoretical training, a capacity building workshop, a three-month practicum in Guatemala and a final practicum at the GAAP Clinic, in Chile.
Community Animal Health Worker
In July 2018, following his training at the Santa Rita Veterinary Clinic in Huehuetenango (Guatemala) and the GAAP Clinic in Valdivia (Chile), Andrés started the next phase of the project, providing basic veterinary health to the pets and owners of his community.
Besides preventive veterinary services like vaccinations, dewormers and anti-flea medications Andrés’ work in Todos Santos includes handling emergencies, taking samples and sending them to the lab in Huehuetenango, organizing small-scale spay/neuter campaigns for his community and providing post-operative care.
In Todos Santos, Andrés serves as the eyes and hands of our veterinarians and with the use of telemedicine, our vets in Valdivia and Huehuetenango are able to guide his work with patients. His performance is closely monitored by the GAAP team. Through a scheduled weekly call, Andrés updates Dr. Angélica Romero on his current cases, and they continue working on his para-veterinary education. With the same purpose, he also travels once a month to Huehuetenango to meet up with Dr. Adriana Contreras from the Santa Rita Veterinary Clinic.