Canada’s first team was assembled in 2006 and travelled to La Antigua, Guatemala to carry out its first mission.
This team has returned to Guatemala every year since 2006 and to date has provided nearly 1000 patients with total hip or knee arthroplasties.
In 2010 Operation Team Canada was joined by Pedorthists, Jeff Walker and Colin Dombroski of SoleScience, who assess and treat foot and lower limb problems in many patients that do not require surgical intervention for their disability.
In 2016, we were joined by Paediatric Dentist, Dr. Olaf Plotzke who has performed various dental procedures on scores of Guatemalan children to great appreciation of their parents and families.
Guatemala has one of the highest poverty rates in Latin America, and its income distribution is among the most unequal in the world. Half of Guatemala’s 14 million people live in poverty, defined as less than $2 per day. In addition, Guatemala is home to 23 indigenous Mayan groups, each with their own language. Poverty weighs more heavily on this population; 74.2% of the indigenous population lives in poverty. The majority of Guatemalans have no access to healthcare. Very few funds are allocated to health care and as a share of the GDP, health care spending in Guatemala is one of the lowest in Central America (2.6 percent).
We work at Las Obras Sociales Del Santo Hermano Pedro. Las Obras was founded in 1643 by the Dominican Order as the Hospital San Juan de Dios. The hospital complex includes the Church of San Pedro, which served as the Cathedral of Antigua from 1668 until 1680.
In 1985, Las Obras was established by the Franciscan Order as a private orphanage and care facility for disabled, abandoned, and malnourished infants and adults. Up to 2016, Las Obras was a residence for those who are unable to care for themselves and live with chronic conditions such as cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, mental retardation, polio paralysis, deafness, blindness, and senile dementia. In 2016 a new facility, Virgen del Socorro, was opened in Antigua and the majority of the residents transferred
The Nutrition Centre remains at Obras. Here, malnourished infants and children from all over Guatemala are treated and their families instructed in the fundamental of good nutrition and related practices and treatments prior to their return home. Louise Wheeler, the owner of Dona Louisa’s Restaurant and a nutritionist, founded the center, and Carolyn Thompson, owner of Finca Los Nietos, a small private organic coffee farm, helps support it through its coffee sales.
The operating room suite was initiated by a grant from Federico Rivero in 1992. There are four operating rooms which we use for our surgeries. These ORs are used year-round by volunteer medical teams from all over the world who provide Guatemalan patients with surgical care in a variety of disciplines.
Many of our patients will go to a respite facility called Casa de Fe when they are discharged from hospital and remain there until they are ready to travel home. Families, many of whom travel great distances are also welcome here. Many surgery teams in Antigua often have members that spend time at the Casa de Fe during the week, cooking meals for the patients and their families, playing with the children, teaching educational health programs, and following up with patients recovering from their surgeries. Case de Fe provides a clean, warm place to sleep, hot meals and pure water.
GUATEMALA MISSION HISTORY
2006 - 52 hip & knee replacements
2007 - 61 hip & knee replacements
2008 - 59 hip & knee replacements
2009 - 52 hip & knee replacements
2010 - 61 hip & knee replacements
2011 - 75 hip & knee replacements
2012 - 69 hip & knee replacements
2013 - 75 hip & knee replacements
2014 - 68 hip & knee replacements
2015 - 51 hip & knee replacements
2016 - 72 hip & knee replacements
2017 - 71 hip & knee replacements
2018 - 71 hip & knee replacements