Guatemala's constitution mandates that the government provide health services to all Guatemalans. Yet public investment in the health sector lags behind all other countries in Central America. Where health care services are available, quality is sub-optimal and services are not culturally sensitive. Guatemala has the highest population growth and total fertility rates in Latin America and nearly half of its 16 million inhabitants are under the age of 19. The government is confronting high rates of maternal and neonatal mortality and chronic malnutrition among children under five. To achieve its long-term health and development goals, Guatemala must transform the way health services are delivered, financed, and monitored.
In addition, Guatemala has one of the lowest education budgets in the region, resulting in poor-quality education. Although children are guaranteed nine years of school under the constitution, on average, they attend only through the fourth grade. Approximately 1.6 million youth should be in school but are not and large segments of Guatemala's youth are leaving school ill-prepared to join the productive workforce. Girls are more likely than boys to drop out before completing secondary school. Young people are both Guatemala's biggest opportunity and greatest potential threat. Signs that Guatemala is not capitalizing on the potential of youth include large numbers of young people migrating to the United States; high rates of early pregnancy; and high rates of unemployment, underemployment, and informal employment among youth.
What We Do
HP+ in Guatemala, named the Health and Education Policy Plus (HEP+) project, supports the government's targeted health sector reform efforts while focusing on civil society, governance, and central-level planning and policies in the education, nutrition, and health sectors. We operate in these areas by:
- Supporting the development of a health sector reform strategy and a unified vision for the country's health sector to include clear and concrete goals
- Providing technical assistance in health financing, governance, and health management information systems
- Working with government and civil society to support policy changes that address inequities in health services and improve access to and quality of health and nutrition services
- Developing a health sector decentralization strategy to address challenges related to health services, water, and sanitation at the community level
- Strengthening central-level planning and policies
- Collaborating with government, civil society, and community-level stakeholders to support policy changes that address the quality of education and inequities in access
- Fostering civil society participation in advocacy and policy dialogue to ensure the prioritization of important health, nutrition, and education issues and greater investments in these sectors