SEE is committed to delivering high-quality eye care to underserved citizens in Guatemala throughout the year. Since 2017, SEE has organized 16 trips in Guatemala, performing over 800 surgeries and serving over 7,000 patients. Our main site is located at Hospital Nacional de Amatitlan in Villa Nueva.
Guatemala is a Central American country that shares its northern border with Mexico. Although it has the biggest economy in Central America, it has one of the highest rates of inequality amongst classes. Rural areas face extreme rates of poverty, malnutrition, and maternal-child mortality. The health care system has partially recovered since the bloody civil war that took place from 1960-1996. However, the poor still have great difficulty accessing and affording basic medical care. Modern healthcare facilities are only located in urban areas, so those living in the outskirts rely on poorly equipped clinics or traditional healers. When those living in rural regions develop a serious condition, it is extremely difficult to travel to cities for treatment.
In 2016, Guatemala became the fourth nation in the Americas to eliminate river blindness, also known as onchocerciasis. Unfortunately, blindness is still a huge health problem as the leading cause of blindness in Guatemala is cataracts. A study published on the National Center of Biotechnology Information reported that the main barriers to receiving treatment were lack of knowledge that treatment was available, not being able to afford surgery, and fear of surgery.