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Health Worker Hero: Auxiliary Nurse Azucely Cifuentes
This World Health Worker Week, URC is celebrating the health workers who make such an incredible, indispensable contribution to health in communities around the world. These men and women are our Health Worker Heroes, and we're sharing their stories.
The Nutri-Salud: Community Nutrition and Health project in Guatemala has nominated Azucely Cifuentes, Auxiliary Nurse, as one of their Health Worker Heroes.
Azucely works as an auxiliary nurse in Chiantla Municipal Health District, Huehuetenango Guatemala, where she works at the community level. Assigned to three villages in the mountainous western highlands of Guatemala, she is the first point of contact between the formal health system and the communities it serves. She provides primary health services in the villages where she works, including infant and child growth monitoring and promotion, prenatal care, family planning counselling, and general preventive health measures aimed at reducing chronic malnutrition and maternal and infant morbidity and mortality.
Technical Advisor Kevin Embrey had a chance to ask Azucely a few questions about herself recently...
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
“When I was little I never thought about being a nurse, but I had some health problems as a child and it made me want to learn more about health, to understand my own health. So I studied nursing in high school. When I got a job with a private health clinic I tried to learn everything I could about what medicines the doctor was prescribing for what ailments and I even helped deliver babies. So when I went to the community as an auxiliary nurse I already knew about maternal and child health and malnutrition.”
A stranger on a bus asks you what you do for a living. What do you say?
“I work for the Municipal Health District, but I only go to the District office to do paperwork. My work is in the communities where I go every day to follow up with pregnant women, do growth monitoring and promotion with infants and children, vaccinate women and children, and promote healthy practices through the Wheel of Behaviors activities. You need to understand the community to work well with the people. At home I’m known as Azucely, but in the communities they call me ‘La Colochita’ (for her curly hair), and community members often bring me little gifts such as fruit or vegetables to thank me.”
Do you have a story about a break-through moment in your work? What happened?
“I was working with families with infant children and women of reproductive age using the Wheel of Behaviors when I realized that everyone in the community should be involved in community health. So I organized a community assembly with the local Community Development Council (COCODE) and we presented the Wheel of Behaviors (and its 19 key activities) to them. The community identified the need for latrines in every home to eliminate contamination of water and reduce the spread of disease. So we coordinated the building of latrines and made sure every household had one. They were built according to the resources each family had so some are very nice and others very basic. Some neighbors even worked together to build a communal latrine when they didn’t have enough money to build one individually. Now the everyone in the community is using a latrine."
Thank you, Azucely, for your passion and dedication.
April 05, 2016