CAHI FELLOW - GUATEMALA
MILK BANKS AND SUPPORT
NETWORKS FOR BREASTFEEDING
Silvia España is Nutritionist, with a master’s degree in food security and child nutrition. Currently, she works in the Totonicapan Hospital, in the role of Coordinator of the Breast Milk Bank. CAHI Fellows from the 5th Generation, she is also an entrepreneur and has a strong commitment to the health of neonates.
España combines her work in the Hospital with physical activity as a Zumba instructor, and additionally by being a university professor in nutrition. She thinks in her future as a nutritional adviser and developing several initiatives related, with the purpose of spread information about healthcare.
ABOUT THE PROJECT
Silvia knows that all children need breastfeeding, and she is happy to promote this practice in all the places where she works.
Breastfeeding is the center of her project because she is facilitating the conditions to increase the access to maternal milk, as the essential element for the health of newborns and their recovery for malnutrition or premature birth. The core process of this work has been the milk bank created in the Hospital of Totonicapan, in Guatemala, where she works currently.
The Silvia’s project was developed and strengthened throughout her time in CAHI Fellows program, based on a great opportunity identified by her and the hospital team. The started delivering maternal milk to newborns with good results: the use of this resource is generating shorter recovery periods and the strengthening of babies’ immune system.
The more significant challenge has been the process to generate a change in the culture, to value more the breastfeeding, integrating the availability of maternal milk with the appearing of new habits for better care of babies. One of the needs that Silvia identified is the possibility to bring the liquid to the child who does not have the opportunity to receive it directly for the mother.
The project is now a holistic approach to increase the availability and the use of maternal milk in the hospital, integrating the best practices in all departments associated with babies care.
“The impact we are having in all the children is relevant. Before the creation of the Milk Bank, the babies died, suffered, with several diseases like pneumonia or diarrhea. When we started to implement breastfeeding and the supply of maternal milk, we provoke the change of the indicators. From other hospitals have come to see what we are doing, and the key is the Milk Bank and the practices of breastfeeding.”
Silvia explains the process in her hospital, with a positive change in the time of recovery of the babies. The approach is holistic, considering different aspects.
“I am the coordinator, and I must guarantee that the Milk Bank is stocked, and also the good quality of the milk, the process of pasteurization. The other face of what we do is the work with the people because I gave talks and produce training related to breastfeeding to all the medical workers, and the nurses, to promote best practices.”
It is not only about the equipment to extract and store the maternal milk, but also about train and sensitize the mothers, their partners and families, and the hospital workers, to integrate the practices of breastfeeding as a central element of the babies health.
Now, Silvia Espana is coordinating the collection of maternal milk from several localities, with the adequate equipment for translation, verifying all the process of pasteurization, and additionally, she is promoting the best practices in the hospital with the mothers and the nurses and medical doctors. This process was designed during her participation in the CAHI Fellows Program.
This initiative counts with the certification of PAHO and UNICEF.
ABOUT CAHI FELLOWS
Silvia knows about CAHI thanks to a colleague, who recommended her to apply for the development of her project to support breastfeeding and the strengthening of a maternal milk bank. However, additional to the idea of the project, the motivation to join the program was the possibilities of increasing her leadership abilities, and the connections with other leaders in health in Central America.
“The experience of CAHI has been relevant to me. The program gave me a new perspective, and it helps me not only with the development of the project but also in the new learnings and experiences to create other initiatives in my life.”
INCAE Business School facilitates the program for the CAHI Fellows Program, which is experiential for the generation of learnings through the interaction of participants and the addressing of several challenges for the emotional and intellectual balance of all the group.
She expresses that after her participation in the Program, the has more capacity to hear and understand others, to promote integration in a work team, considering different points of view in the process of decision making. During the first stage of the CAHI Fellows Program, she understood the need to inform and train the people about breastfeeding and the generation of a chain of cooperation to collect and store the maternal milk, integrating the use of this resource in all the levels of attention at the Hospital.
“It has been essential to me the sharing with the diversity of people, the different cultures, perspectives and levels of education. This process helps us to expand our mind and understand other realities in the Region. In the CAHI Fellows Network, we share much information about the situation in our countries, the practices we implement. If I want to know more about some issue related to health, I have available a group of experts to talk and create solutions in collaboration.”
The learnings about leadership, collaborative work, creation of high-performance teams, decision making, negotiation, among other relevant abilities, is combined in the program with the most advanced techniques in project management and resources administration. This way, all the participants strengthen their capacity to be agents of social change, to transform an idea in a specific project with real impact in the health equity in their countries and the Region.