Primeros Pasos is a program of the association PASOS, a non-profit, independent organization with a comprehensive outlook on health care. With the collaboration of health professionals, health educators, volunteers, and community leaders, Primeros Pasos offers quality and affordable health care and health education to the rural, underserved communities of the Palajunoj Valley of Quetzaltenango, Guatemala. We incorporate and combine clinical care, health education, and community outreach projects to effectively provide preventative and primary care.
In late 2002, a group of Guatemalan and foreign students and doctors partnered with community members to revitalize an abandoned mission clinic located in a primarily Mayan-Quiche community outside of Quetzaltenango. The area residents had no local access to public medical services and limited resources to obtain care. The team began by bringing groups of primary school students to the clinic, combining health education with clinical care to address the high rates of childhood malnutrition and diarrheal diseases. Between June and November 2002, free medical services, medications, and basic health education classes were provided to over 1,000 children from the local public schools.
In 2004, the project became known as Primeros Pasos. The clinic and its staff continued to expand its reach into all areas of the Valley, develop new projects and services, and identify trends in the health of the communities. Years later, Primeros Pasos remains the only comprehensive and affordable source of local health care in the area and has extended their programs to include medical, dental, and lab services to both adults and children, and offers health education classes year-round to participating schools and community groups.