Mayan Medical Aid
About MMA
Photo: Mayan Medical Aid
The culmination of a long-standing dream of Craig A. Sinkinson, M.D., Mayan Medical Aid was founded in 2004, with the express purpose of funding medically related projects to benefit the Maya of Guatemala.

Dr. Sinkinson's desire, even before finishing his medical training, has been to provide high-quality health care in places where such health care is non-existent or where what health care is available is inadequate. After many years of planning, he finally was able to begin to implement the dream in Santa Cruz La Laguna, Guatemala.

Santa Cruz is a municipality consisting of approximately 7,000 poor and uneducated people in six pueblos: Santa Cruz, Jaibalito, Tzununá, Pajomel, Chuitzanchaj, and Laguna Seca. These pueblos are located on the North shore of the magnificently beautiful Lake Atitlán.

The participation of medical students, residents, nurses, undergrads, and others fund the project. These participants make a payment, which covers the cost of the medicines, supplies, personnel, and transportation they use to help to provide medical services. As a result, patients do not pay for either the consultations or the essential medicines MMA provides.

Although the costs of MMA's program are higher than those of other programs, MMA provides much more to patients and participants. Additionally, the beneficial impact these participants have on the communities MMA serves exceeds that of any other program worldwide. Annually, MMA provides nearly 8,000 consultations with free medicines, and it does so at a cost of only $4 to $5 per patient visit.

For participants, the program includes teaching in Medical Spanish, as well as in Cultural and Clinical Medicine. It is a four-part reiterative process. What participants learn in the didactic sessions and by using MMA's print, electronic, and online teaching materials is what they use in the clinics. Each aspect reinforces the others.

As such, participants learn to speak Spanish rapidly, and they also learn how to actually treat patients and understand what the words the patients say actually mean. A large part of the difference between MMA's project and those of others is that the faculty are physicians, not simply lay people teaching vocabulary words and grammar. And the clinical time is hands-on, not observational. As such, what participants learn is useful and pertinent from start to finish.

But the Clinic in Santa Cruz is only a start. With the help of colleagues and many other interested persons, as well as a new model for intervention, Mayan Medical Aid will change the way in which people give, receive, and use humanitarian aid.
Copyright:
Craig A. Sinkinson 2016
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