Strengthening Antenatal Care for Indigenous Women in Guatemala

Strengthening Antenatal Care for Indigenous Women in Guatemala


Guatemala’s national maternal mortality ratio of 88 deaths per 100,000 live births is the sixth highest in the Americas. In the Quetzaltenango department, indigenous women bear an even higher burden of maternal mortality due to harsh economic circumstances, higher fertility rates, and less access to convenient and culturally respectful health services.

We are implementing a project to strengthen high-quality, culturally appropriate antenatal care (ANC) for indigenous women in the Quetzaltenango department. Launched in 2019, the project works in partnership with national and departmental health authorities, local partners, and traditional midwives (comadronas) to co-design and implement a group ANC model where pregnant women come together to share experiences, receive information from a health provider, form social bonds, and track the progress of their pregnancies.

Currently in the piloting phase at 10 facilities in the Quetzaltenango region, the ANC pregnancy groups will be scaled up to 30 health facilities over the next two years. The project aims to improve indigenous women’s experiences with facility-based services through the group ANC model, improve their overall utilization of ANC services, and increase the rate of facility-based delivery by indigenous women.

As the 2020 coronavirus pandemic reached Guatemala, the Strengthening Antenatal Care for Indigenous Women in Guatemala project had to adapt to lockdowns and social distancing measures. Learn more about the strategies employed to support health facilities and midwives to maintain continuous antenatal care services throughout the pandemic.

Project Contact

Felipe López

Project Director

Dr. Felipe López, a physician and surgeon, has over 30 years of global experience in health, providing technical assistance to Guatemalan institutions and the ministries and secretaries of health of the Mesoamerican region (Mexico to Panama). He has a background in maternal and child care, family planning, HIV and AIDS, primary health care, monitoring and evaluation, human resources for health, training and health training manuals, and quality assurance in health administration and management. Dr. López graduated from the University of San Carlos de Guatemala with a specialty in sexual and reproductive health and a postgraduate degree in epidemiology. He also has postgraduate degrees in re-engineering and quality assurance from the Francisco Marroquin University.

Donors & Partners


Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies


Health Unlimited

Observatory for Sexual and Reproductive Health