Flag of Guatemala


Situation Analysis

In the last two decades, Guatemala has made progress in improving the health of its people; however, health and nutrition indicators remain among the lowest in the hemisphere. With a population of about 13 million people, the growth rate is 2.8 percent a year, which surpasses all Latin American neighbors and leads to a doubling of the population approximately every 22 years. Twenty-five sociolinguistic groups live in Guatemala: Ladino Spanish, Garífuna, Xinca, and 22 Mayan groups.

Guatemala has the highest level of chronic malnutrition in Latin American and one of the highest in the world. The infant mortality rate is 39 per 1,000 live births—the highest in Central America. According to World Health Organization estimates, the maternal mortality ratio is 290 per 100,000 live births. Forty-one percent of births are attended by a skilled provider—the second lowest in the hemisphere after Haiti.   Women's unmet demand for family planning is 27.6 percent, and the modern contraceptive prevalence rate of 34.4 percent is the second lowest in Latin America and the Caribbean. HIV seroprevalence is estimated at 0.9 percent, and the number of HIV-positive individuals is the second highest in Central America.

The public financing required to address Guatemala’s health needs is substantial. The Ministry of Health's budget is only 1.6 percent of the GDP. These funding levels lag far behind the public investment needed for universal coverage of quality basic health services.

USAID's Response

Increased and improved investment in health, access to quality basic health services, reducing fertility, containing the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and improving food security are critical to Guatemala's stability and productivity. USAID supports long-range social policies that establish appropriate roles for the public and private sectors in health financing and delivery.  

The Agency supports advocacy groups of indigenous women and other civil society organizations. Stakeholders who advocate reproductive and maternal health rights serve a key role by demanding services and monitoring of government compliance with commitments and policy. USAID promotes coordination among national and local key actors and, with the help of NGOs, increases the dissemination of public information.

USAID programs are designed to:

  • Decrease maternal and child, especially neonatal, mortality
  • Scale-up a sustainable model to improve maternal and neonatal health
  • Improve the HIV/AIDS policy environment
  • Improve care and treatment for people living with HIV/AIDS
  • Support critical cost-effective services for maternal and child health and family planning, with an emphasis on rural, indigenous, and poor populations
  • Increase access to quality health services among the poor

Long-term goals of USAID interventions in the health sector include:

  • Decrease the total fertility rate from 4.4 percent to 3.6 percent
  • Increase contraceptive prevalence from 43 percent to 55 percent and expand reproductive rights
  • Reduce the infant mortality rate from 39  to 23 per 1,000 live births and reduce the maternal mortality ratio from 290 to 138 per 100,000 live births
  • Contain the HIV/AIDS epidemic and decrease the risk of becoming infected with HIV


Principal Results and Accomplishments

USAID’s interventions have resulted in:

  • Improved access to family planning services
  • Increased access to basic health services for rural indigenous women and children
  • Cost-effective interventions to improve the health system
  • Increased number of births attended by skilled personnel
  • Increased access to condoms for high-risk groups
  • Improved HIV counseling and testing services and reduced barriers to access


Principal Current Implementing Partners:

Program Partner

Implementing Partner

Alianzas Multisectoriales

Research Triangle Institute (RTI)

Dialogue for Social Sector Investment

Academy for Educational Development (AED)

Health Care Improvement (Mejoramiento de la Atención en Salud)

University Research Corporation (URC)

Extension of Coverage of Basic Health Services

United Nations Development Program (UNDP)

Reproductive Health Policy Initiative

PASCA Features Group

Reproductive Health Services and Institutional Sustainability




Last updated: July 03, 2014

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