Medical Teams International | Official Blog

Stories of hope, health and lives transformed.

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  • Cambodia: Healthy Women, Healthy World takes action

    by Emily Crowe | Feb 25, 2016

    Healthy Women Healthy World is Medical Teams International's new initiative that seeks to mobilize women to be champions for health issues that impact women and their children. Throughout the year, members are given the opportunity to gather and learn about the global health issues women and children are facing-- engaging locally, at home, and abroad. This week, several members from the team are in Cambodia, meeting local staff and families and getting a first-hand look at the impact of Medical Teams International's work.


    The five of us arrived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on Saturday at 10:30am. It's already been a whirlwind of experiences. Even leaving the airport, we got a first-hand taste of the risks and differences of the road here- as we prepared to leave, we were completely blocked in! Witnessing the vast difference in roads and driving rules, we can clearly understand why traffic fatalities have jumped so high in recent years.


    A heartbreaking history at the Killing Fields, just one of the remnants of a blood regime that killed millions of innocent Cambodians. The destruction left permanent marks on the country's development.

    We experienced a very somber day on Sunday as we toured the Killing Fields and the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum. Horrifying and unimaginable are the first words that come to mind. In just a short period of time, we have learned so much more about the hardships this country has faced.

    Thankfully, in contrast, we ended the day surrounded by beauty of the beauty of the Cambodian people and countryside-- we were blessed to join several Medical Teams International field staff for dinner on the Mekong river.HealthyWomenHealthyWorld_Cambodia_trip

    Yesterday we received a briefing on Medical Teams International's programs in Cambodia, so today we head to the Prey Veng province to witness the incredible work being accomplished through the Emergency Medical Services project. We are looking forward to another eye-opening day.

    I can't write this and not also share how amazing the Medical Teams International Staff are here in Cambodia. We feel so blessed to have met these hard-working, gracious staff who work diligently each and every day to bring help to those in need. We have been so impressed and know that God has placed these wonderful people here to do his work.

    Please pray for continued good health for our team.

    Diana, Kristi, Kathy, Linda and Annie

    GET INVOLVED: Want to learn more about the global health issues that impact women and their children? Want to be part of a group of women that are passionate about making a difference?


  • Zika: Protecting mothers & children

    by Emily Crowe | Feb 19, 2016


    Meet Laura, a mother served by the community health programs we operate in Latin America. As Zika spreads, we are now working with mothers like her to minimize the spread and impact of the virus.

    The World Health Organization has declared the Zika outbreak an international public health emergency. Medical Teams International is using our knowledge gained from years of work serving in local communities that are at risk of infection-- to protect mothers and minimize the spread and impact of the virus.  

    Donate now: Protect mothers & infants from the Zika virus >>

    How do mothers contract Zika?

    The virus is transmitted through the bite of a specific type of mosquito that's been infected by the virus- the same type of mosquito that carries dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever. There are a few indications that transmission is also possible between intimate partners.

    What's the risk?

    The virus is suspected to be linked to higher rates of babies born with microcephaly- an abnormally small head caused by lack of brain development during pregnancy or lack of growth after birth. This can have devastating effects on a child's development, making it harder to survive and thrive. It is also suspected to be linked to a rare disorder, Guillain-Barre syndrome which attacks nerve cells which can cause muscle weakness and sometimes paralysis.

    Here is how Medical Teams International is protecting mothers and children during the Zika outbreak:

    One of our core programs is community health. These programs work to support the health of mothers and their children. Over the years, we’ve implemented training and support systems that teach these moms to protect themselves and their children from many serious threats: malaria, malnutrition, pneumonia, risks associated with poor water, sanitation and hygiene practices, etc. We run these programs around the world- including communities across Latin America and the Caribbean.

    With the spread of Zika, our current programming makes MTI well positioned to be able to reach these women and their families with training and education to avoid Zika—removing standing water, avoiding Zika-prevalent zones, using protection against mosquitoes, etc. We are working diligently to make sure the women we serve are better able to protect themselves during this outbreak.

    We’ve already begun implementing this training in the communities where we work in Latin America, and will expand training to other regions if the outbreak spreads.

    How can you help?

    We are so grateful for the support of people like you who allow us to react quickly and implement programs like this that can potentially save or protect precious lives.

    1. Donate to Healthy Children & Safe Motherhood.

    2. Stay up to date: Subscribe to our newsletter & blog to receive updates as soon as they happen.

  • Silveira's struggle: Helping families in rural Guatemala

    by Greta Jarvis | Feb 17, 2016

    Silveira could not figure out what was wrong. She was weak and exhausted all the time. Her children depended on her to survive- especially her youngest infant- but everything felt impossibly difficult. She and her husband made the journey from their rural Guatemalan community of San José El Soch to the town of Chicaman 22 kilometers away. At the health center in Chicaman, Silveira was diagnosed with severe anemia. Her body was not making enough red blood cells to keep her healthy. 

    Jaime_Silveira_helping_mother_child_health_GuatemalaWhen Silveira learned of her anemia, her youngest son was almost one-year-old. The constant fatigue that comes with anemia prevented her from giving young Jaime enough breast milk. Her son was so tiny. Why wasn’t he growing like the other children? Amidst her own suffering, the determined mother brought Jaime to the health clinic hoping to find an answer.

    Jaime was weighed and measured. He was underweight. Silveira was so afraid when she heard that her precious baby was diagnosed with malnutrition. How could she protect her tiny child from the weakness that had invaded her body? Thankfully, you were there to make sure Silveira got the support she needed to overcome the barriers her condition presented. 

    Thanks to you, we were already at work in Silveira's community, training local Mother Counselors in Guatemala to provide health education and outreach to other mothers in their communities. These passionate Mother Counselors worked with Silveira as she attended classes on how to properly feed Jaime and help him recover from his malnutrition. Jaime’s mother learned about healthy food, clean food preparation, hand washing, and hygiene.

    Thanks to you, Silveira gained the knowledge and tools to give her children bright, healthy futures.

    Silveira thanks God for Medical Teams International staff and the Mother Counselors. They empowered her to better take care of her most beloved treasures: her children. In March, Jaime weighed 11 pounds. By May, her sweet baby weighed almost 14 pounds. What an incredible miracle! Jaime’s health is constantly improving, and Silveira feels so happy.

    Without the generosity and support of people like you, Jaime’s story might have had a different, more tragic ending. We are so grateful for your partnership, as we work together toward better maternal and infant health in Guatemala.

    Share Jaime’s story of recovery- and Silveira's story of empowerment- to spread the word about how your prayers, donations and support change lives around the world. Consider praying for those mothers and children in Guatemala who do not have access to this life-changing care. Make a donation today to save a life tomorrow. Spread the word on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter so others can help make these crucial programs possible. Together, we can make a difference. On behalf of Jaime and Silveira… thank you.

  • From the Field: Your support kept Marcela safe.

    by Emily Crowe | Feb 12, 2016

    One of our volunteers, Tom Berridge, just returned from serving in the field in Guatemala. He came back with this amazing story of your impact on one woman- and how it's now helping her entire community:

    Because the births of her first three children had been easy, Marcela expected no difficulty delivering her fourth baby. Accompanied by a midwife in a small, indigenous village Guatemala, she gave birth to a healthy boy, Elias. The birth had been normal... but her placenta still had not been expelled.

    Marcella is a mother counselor herself and had attended MTI trainings. She knew that, after 30 minutes, placenta trapped inside the uterus can lead to dangerous complications: internal bleeding, infection... even death. 

    But she lives two hours up a bumpy road from the nearest hospital. When she called her husband, who was on his way from his job in Guatemala City, he told her to wait at home until he arrived. So she waited.

    Marcela and Elias seven months after the frightening night that could have taken this mother's life.

    Marcela’s husband arrived four hours after the birth. The placenta still hadn't expelled, and she had developed a headache and abdominal pain-- warning signs. She and her husband called the MTI staffer for the village. Luckily, an MTI medical team that included doctors from Faith and Practice was working in a community a half hour away, so an MTI staffer was able to get there quickly in a pickup.

    After hearing the problem, the staffer called an ambulance, put her in the truck, and took her to the doctors on the MTI team in the community down the hill. The doctors didn’t have the equipment to treat her, but the ambulance soon arrived and took her to the clinic in Chicamán, where she was told that they also did not have the necessary equipment, so she continued to Uspantán. She later said that as she rode in the ambulance, she was thinking, “If I die, who will take care of my children? Nobody is going to treat them as well as I treat them.”

    When she arrived at the hospital, she was suffering from shock, and the doctor immediately removed the placenta. Her back and stomach hurt. She was kept in the hospital for two more days to be sure she did not have an infection. Thankfully, her pain soon subsided and she could go home to her family and new baby. Finally, she felt good.

    Now my children are so healthy that other women come and ask me questions so their children can be as healthy as mine.

    Marcela is spreading the word in her community. She has shared her experience with the four other mother counselors in her community, and she is using her story to teach other mothers the importance of seeking immediate help if a placenta has not been expelled after 30 minutes. She encourages other mothers to have their babies at the hospital, and some mothers are taking her advice.

    “Now my children are so healthy that other women come and ask me questions so their children can be as healthy as mine,” she said. “I am sorry I didn’t listen before, but I am telling others to listen to MTI because the things they tell us help with our well-being,” she said.

    “I would like to thank Medical Teams for having people with big hearts who help us,” she told Tom. “We called them and they were here right away to pick me up. People who work for MTI help with all of their heart. Even though the nurses knew I had done wrong by waiting, they were not angry with me but told me to have faith that I would be OK.” She also said she wanted to thank MTI for coming and offering workshops on nutrition and hygiene, where she listens carefully.

    Thanks to you, this mom was able to survive her complicated birth-- and is helping others do the same.

    Help Marcela's story do even more: Share it on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. Want to directly impact women like Marcela around the world? Donate or volunteer!

  • Tecla: No time to wait

    by Tyler Graf | Feb 10, 2016

    Guatemala, Tecla Senahu, Jan. 2016

    Mother-to-be Tecla is rushed down a bumpy dirt road to the nearest hospital, more than two hours away.

    One week: What a difference it can make. 

    In Tecla’s case, it meant all the difference in the world. She had waited long enough.

    The 27-year-old Guatemalan woman was pregnant for the fourth time and a week past her due date. As she waited she worried. From experience, she knew that the longer she waited for the onset of labor, the more likely it became for serious conditions to develop. 

    During each of her past pregnancies, she suffered bouts of convulsions and dangerously high blood pressure. The condition is known as preeclampsia, and it can lead to organ failure – even death. She suffered from the condition during her most recent pregnancy, too. A doctor had told Tecla that the longer she waited, the more likely it would be for her preeclampsia to worsen. 

    The only cure is to deliver the baby. 

    Tecla was scared. She’d lost one of her four babies during a previous pregnancy. She knew the severity of her condition was real. 

    And so is her seclusion. 

    She lives in a small indigenous village outside the town of Senahu, two hours from the nearest hospital. The only way down to the hospital is over a bumpy, narrow dirt road that snakes around the hill country of Central Guatemala. The problem was, neither Tecla nor her family had access to a vehicle.  

    But villagers knew that health coordinators from Medical Teams International were in the area, visiting a nearby community. As the coordinators were hiking down the hillside back to their vehicle, the villagers confronted them.

    They explained about Tecla and her condition. They spoke with urgency: Tecla needs to see a doctor. She can feel her blood pressure rising, the onset of preeclampsia.

    The coordinators contemplated calling an ambulance. But that would take too long – a four-hour two-way trip. That wouldn’t work, not if Tecla’s condition worsened. Instead, their vehicle would have to act as the ambulance.

    The coordinators put Tecla in the back seat of the truck and called ahead to the hospital. As the sun began descending, the truck took off. Slowly, over a choppy road, with fog limiting visibility, a health coordinator drove Tecla to the hospital.

    At the hospital, a doctor induced labor, and Tecla gave birth at midnight to a healthy, 5-pound baby.

    Because of Medical Teams' regular presence in Tecla’s community, both the young mother and her baby are alive and healthy. Their good health is a blessing and a testament to the generosity of MTI’s donors and the dedication of the field staff, whose fast thinking saves lives.

    Thanks to your generous donations, Tecla and her baby are healthy. When Tecla was at her most vulnerable, your support provided the resources to help. To support more people around the globe who lack access to health care, consider praying or making a donation.