Medical Teams International Meets Urgent Needs in Hurricane-Ravaged Guatemala

November 20, 2020 Providence News Team

The non-profit Medical Teams International is quickly responding to the immediate needs of Guatemalans impacted by flooding, landslides and loss of life as a result of Hurricane Eta, which struck the Central American country in early November. 

Approximately 240,000 Guatemalans have been impacted and are in need of basic health services and supplies. Lives have been lost and homes and roads have been washed away due to heavy rains, flooding and mudslides. The St. Joseph Community Partnership Fund, a grant making foundation of Providence that stretches beyond the traditional role of health care to partner with the community, made a $50,000 donation in response to the immediate needs of Guatemalans. 

The SJCP Fund donation and other Medical Teams fundraising will help purchase hygiene kits in-country that meet the urgent needs of one person for eight days, containing basic supplies like soap, shampoo, a toothbrush, toothpaste, toilet paper and other necessities. Medical Teams has already delivered 2,000 kits hygiene kits to shelters in the region by helicopter.

Since 2012, Medical Teams has partnered with Providence to improve the health of families in eighteen communities in rural Guatemala, all of which were impacted by this disaster. Together, Medical Teams and Providence have provided health interventions to improve maternal and child health by reducing rates of diarrhea and pneumonia, improving the health knowledge and practices of pregnant women and mothers, and strengthening communities concerning the issues of health and sanitation. 

During this partnership, more than 700 employees from Providence have volunteered their time to build vented stoves, latrines and water systems alongside community volunteers. Providence health care professionals have also helped to strengthen the Guatemalan health system by providing assessments, trainings, and supportive supervision on Integrated Management of Childhood Illnesses and Emergency Obstetric and Newborn Care protocols for Ministry of Health workers. These protocols are the primary interventions for averting maternal and neonatal mortalities. 

In response to COVID-19 in Guatemala, Providence Global & Domestic Engagement donated funds to provide hygiene kits, handwashing stations and hygiene education to 1,600 households and to build five isolation units at four health facilities. 

"“As a loyal and longstanding partner, Providence has stepped up to help meet the urgent needs of their friends in Guatemala,” said Martha Newsome, Medical Teams President & CEO. “For many years, our staff have enjoyed serving alongside Providence employees. At this incredibly difficult time in Guatemala, we greatly appreciate their caring, generous hearts and commitment to serve these devastated families and communities.”

 “Our hearts are with our neighbors in Guatemala,” said Joel Gilbertson, executive vice president, community partnerships at Providence. “Providence has an established Guatemala Partnership with Medical Teams International. Since 2012, 723 of our caregivers have volunteered with MTI to provide public health service trips, health system strengthening and cross-cultural learning opportunities. We are committed to continually serve our Mission at home and abroad.”

To help provide critically needed hygiene items and care to Guatemalans impacted by Hurricane Eta, please visit

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