Coban, Guatemala and Local Mayan Women

Coban, Guatemala and Local Mayan Women

Coban, Guatemala is not a prime tourist destination; rather, surrounded by mountains and located at 4330 feet, it is a coffee-growing region. The fourth largest city in Guatemala, Coban, about 4-5 hours drive (219 kilometers) from the capital, has a population of around 100,000 people.

The local people are predominantly Q’eqchi, a group that represents about 6 percent of Guatemala’s Mayan population. Q’eqchi is widely spoken in the city. The name of Coban probably comes from Q’eqchi meaning “foggy place.”

Because they are typically rural and often live in isolated areas, Mayans rely heavily on traditional healers and plants and herbs as medicines. Q’eqchi women may not have experienced gynecological exams, even if they were pregnant. Few Mayan women generally have ever had PAP tests for cervical cancer or been through “See and Treat” (VIA), the simple and free procedure CCC is bringing to Coban.

The challenge for our effort is to spread the word to Q’eqchi women about the danger of cervical cancer and the need to undergo an easy medical exam to detect pre-cancerous lesions. CCC welcomes the opportunity to work with our local medical partner in order to do outreach to women in the Coban area.  Also, we will be working in conjunction with Coban Regional Hospital (see photo) so if we find any existing cases of cervical cancer, we can refer women immediately to the hospital.