Sociological Aspects of Children in Guatemala

Project Overview Country History Education Health Care Child Labor Street Children Street Survival Abuse on the Streets Children's Rights Government Policies Support

Health Care

With the majority of the population under the international poverty line, the children of Guatemala have grown accustomed to the severe lack of health care. The health coverage in Guatemala is so inefficient that it has been estimated that over forty percent of the entire population receive no health care services whatsoever. The majority of the population relies solely on self-treatment. The country has the lowest life expectancy rate in Central America, as well as the highest infant mortality rate. Abortion is illegal in Guatemala, unless it is deemed necessary to save the mother's life. However, this legal restriction is shown to be inefficient with an estimated three abortions for every three pregnancies. The percentage of government resources that goes toward a country's health care systems is a general measure of the level of concern the government has for the health care of its people. The eleven percent finance allotted for health care in Guatemala in 1998 shows that the focus of the government is not on the health of the population. In 1999, there were an estimated 0.9 physicians and one hospital bed per one thousand people in Guatemala.

The lack of access to many health care services contributes to the leading causes of death among the people of Guatemala, including pneumonia and intestinal infections. These illnesses could be easily prevented if more and improved health care services were available to the population. Immunizations against common diseases for children are given exclusively by professional practitioners, and the likelihood of children receiving treatment is directly related to economic and social status. The severe poverty is a major cause of malnutrition throughout the country. Inadequate nutrition contributes to over half of all deaths of Guatemalan children. The poorer half of the population was estimated as receiving less than sixty percent of its daily minimum caloric requirements in 1990. Few people have access to drinking water, especially in the more rural areas of Guatemala. The insufficient health care services that are being provided to the children of Guatemala need to be changed in order to accommodate the majority of the population who find themselves under the international poverty line.

Gall, Timothy. 1998. Worldmark Encyclopedia of Cultures and Daily Life. Vol. 2, Americas. Cleveland, OH: Eastwood Publication Development.

Kaul, Chandrika. 2002. Statistical Handbook on the World's Children. Westport, CT: Oryx Press. 7

Pebley, Ann R., Noreen Goldman, and German Rodriguez. 1996. "Prenatal and Delivery Care and Childhood Immunization in Guatemala: Do Family and Community Matter?" Demography 33:231-248.

Walter, Lynn and Amy Lind. 2003. The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Women's Issues Worldwide: Central & South America. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.
The purpose of this website is to inform viewers about the sociological aspects of children in Guatemala. Megan Coleman, Serrina Duly, Nicole Freeland, Jonah Kane-West, and Marc McCloskey created this site as part of a collaborative web project for their first year writing seminar "Children and Society" for our project "Children Around the World". Professor April Brayfield of Tulane University taught this class.
This is not a professional website. This site was compiled in less than a month as a final project for our course. The information in this website is a combination of the profesional research we have cited and our own ideas. Our research was limited to those documents printed in Western European format and the English language. The focus of these data were on Street Children. We do not intend to imply that all children in Guatemala are treated badly.
We would like to thank our consultant, Professor Jocelyn S. Viterna, whose correspondence allowed us to gain a greater understanding of children in Guatemala and Professor Brayfield for her help and patience in the creation of this site.

Last updated on December 07,2004