The midwives fighting Guatemala's high maternal mortality rates

The midwives fighting Guatemala's high maternal mortality rates View Gallery
Fermina Lopéz and comadronas Elena and Celestina; above: the examination room at San Juan de Dios public hospital Pic: Naomi Elster

In the remote highlands of Guatemala, one of Latin America’s poorest countries, midwives work tirelessly to help indigenous women for whom the pregnancy mortality rate is more than double the national average

Graciela Velásquéz lights three candles and places them at the foot of the altar in her living room. She gives thanks to the four elements and welcomes us into her home by inviting us to light our own candles.

Graciela is a “keeper of time” – or Mayan spiritual guide – a human rights defender with the Community Feminist Network of Ancestral Healers, a qualified pharmacist and a comadrona (a traditional midwife) from...

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