A new medical centre funded by Goldcorp and operated in partnership with the Guatemalan government brings a Presidential welcome and leading-edge care to Guatemalan communities.

In the municipalities near the Marlin Mine, Goldcorp is involved in initiatives that are providing jobs and vocational training, improving community water and sewage systems, small business development, agricultural extension and helping build schools, sports fields and roads. Goldcorp is proud to announce that its latest contribution to the families and communities living near the Marlin mine is a brand new and much-needed medical centre. On land provided by the municipality, and with the provision of healthcare staff and operational support from the Guatemalan Ministry of Health, Goldcorp funded the Centro de Atención Permanente (CAP) facility to address the increasing need for accessible health care in the township of San Miguel Ixtahuacán and the state of San Marcos, Guatemala.

Historical rates of malnutrition and infection in these areas have already been significantly reduced due to improvements in local income levels and standards of living.  These improvements are due, in part, to Goldcorp’s efforts to hire locally, work with local contractors and small businesses that support mine operations, improve the community water filtration system and support the expansion of an existing outpatient clinic.

“We conducted a baseline study and found that this region, one of the nation’s poorest prior to the arrival of Marlin mine, has a great need for basic and preventative health services, especially in the areas of pre- and post-natal care, infant development and immunization,” said Mario Marroquin, Executive Director at Marlin.

So in 2011, Goldcorp provided US$2.8 million (Q22 million) for building materials and construction, medical equipment and supplies, and on March 1st of this year, the CAP officially opened its doors to serve about 55,000 district residents. The facility is equipped with examination rooms, emergency clinics, operating theatres, maternity and pediatric care, outpatient clinics, ambulance service, dentistry services and social workers.

Presidential praise

CAP’s opening was attended by Guatemala’s Minister of Health, the Minister of Energy and Mines, and Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina, who said, “I have come to inaugurate the Medical Care Centre, which cost Q22 million, funded by the Marlin mine . . . It is equipped and is equal to or better than private hospitals found in the capital. This is a healthcare blessing for San Miguel Ixtahuacán and surrounding communities.” The government officials then toured Marlin mine operations and reviewed Goldcorp’s industry-leading standards of work safety, environmental protection and sustainable community development.

Addressing Guatemalan citizens, President Molina said, “I have come to tell you that you have a government and a president who are willing to do their very best to ensure that companies uphold social and environmental responsibilities. They will be supported by the government, because we are also going to do our part . . . Here we have an example of how things can be done well, when a company acts responsibly, when international standards are met . . . When you respect and work together with the local community and create jobs.”

Ongoing care

To increase the sustainability of the health centre, as many staff as possible will be recruited locally, and both administrative and support training will be offered to new CAP staff. These training programs must be implemented in partnership with local and global health experts and organizations. Goldcorp is continuously seeking dialogue with potential partners such as health NGOs and other experts to continue support for this important initiative, implement sustainable health programs, and ensure accessible and quality health care for the communities of San Miguel Ixtahuacán and beyond.

“Goldcorp is proud to present CAP to the community of San Miguel Ixtahuacán and other municipalities that surround it,” says Eduardo Villacorta, Vice President of Operations, Central and South America. “This is concrete proof of our dedication and vision for sustainable prosperity here, and fulfillment of our promise to be a responsible corporate citizen.”

Overcoming challenges

The ongoing challenge facing companies, communites, governments, and NGOs worldwide is ensuring the long term sustinability of development programs. For community development programs to succeed, they need equal support and ownership from all parties involved. This can sometimes be difficult due to geographic location, capacity challenges, financial issues, and competing prioities.

On the CAP project, Goldcorp faced and continues to face a number of key challenges that may impact the long term success of the project. Although partnering with the government is necessary to fufill our vision of creating shared value, it can also defer the implementation process of community development initiatives as governments balance various priorities. Our partnership with the Ministry of Health was challenged with delays experienced during an election year and the complete change in government that resulted.

Prioritizing a sustainable approach over a ‘quick fix’ solution takes time. It was difficult to resist external pressure to staff the CAP with Goldcorp doctors and nurses. Although this would have expedited the facility’s opening, it would have created a dependency in the long-run. We believe that companies should not replace the role of government. Instead, it is our desire to work with government to increase in-country capacity.

So the question remains – what health NGOs or experts will take on the challenge to work with companies and local health authorities to support the implementation of sustainable health programs and ensure accessible and quality health care for the communities such as San Miguel Ixtahuacán?

If you have any comments on this program or ideas on how to make it a long-term success, please let us know! If you have any doubts or concerns, please share those too.

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