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Beginning in 2002, the CNS implemented a Canadian International development Agency-financed project in Nicaragua and Guatemala to educate a new generation of front-line community nurses to work in rural and remote regions of each country. In Guatemala, approximately 500 new auxiliary nurses were educated and 1000 professional nurses and auxiliary nurses received continuing education and training. These new and upgraded front-line workers have saved lives, attended child births, provided education to new mothers, and monitored the growth and development of newborn and young children.

The CNS also piloted the use of cellular technology for training and tele-health in the region of Alta Verapaz, Guatemala. The model developed by CNS has garnered international recognition and has since been replicated in other parts of the country. The project has directly contributed to improved access to primary health care nursing services for more than 1.158 million people in rural and remote communities in the departments of Alta Verapaz, Huehuetenango, and Quiche. In Guatemala, approximately 50.8% of the population are female and approximately 40.1% are children under the age of 15. Given that women and children generally tend to access health care services when needed and available, it is estimated that more than 352,370 women (15 years of age and older) and 464,358 children (boys and girls combined) were positively impacted by this project and now have improved access to primary health care nursing services.

This project was based on the belief that nursing personnel are able to deliver quality primary health care services in a cost-effective and equitable manner across a continuum of care while extending coverage to hard to reach populations in rural and remote areas.

The real challenge to extending primary health care coverage to rural areas was ensuring that, once trained, these primary health care workers would stay in their communities and provide health care services where they were needed most.

This project was based on the belief that the education and training could be given quickly and effectively by utilizing distance learning methodology. The primary health care nurses were taught in their own communities or nearby districts. Following graduation, the graduates work and provide health care services in their rural home communities.

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Travelling in the RAAS (Región Autónoma Atlántico Sur), Nicaragua.

Health Education Workshop, Guatemala.