New short documentary on community defenders for right to health

Dear all, In Guatemala, almost half of the total population is indigenous and the majority live in rural areas. Despite progressive laws that recognize the right to health, rural populations face major barriers and discrimination to access healthcare services. Because of this situation, rural communities have organized themselves as “community defenders for the right to health”. This short documentary (10 minutes) tells the story of the network of 160 community defenders who uses the legal framework, state institutions and civic mobilization to monitor healthcare facilities, engage with authorities in the resolution of problems and demand accountability. My organization-CEGSS, has supported community defenders for several years. Here the link to the video: I would love to hear your comments, questions about it. Regards. Walter


Bonjour Walter c’est une bonne proposition

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Hello @WalterFlores! I have watched the documentary and I can honestly say the problems faced by the rural communities in Guatemala are almost identical to the problems in my country, Tanzania. It is disheartening that access to healthcare can be such a big problem.

Can you tell us something about the health laws in Guatemala?


Hi Rachel. Thanks for watching the documentary. The law in Guatemala recognize the right to health at the Constitutional level. Then there are specific norms and guidelines about public services to be provided in the local indigenous languages when there is a majority of indigenous populations; the health act recognized the right of communities to participate in the monitoring and planning of healthcare services. Despite these laws and norms, authorities frequently ignore them or have no willing to implement them. Many rural communities are also unaware of these laws and regulations. Hence the work of the Community Defenders, in educating their communities about their rights and engaging with authorities to demand accountability. In summary, having laws and norms is important but not sufficient to ensure equity and inclusion of marginalized communities. There is still a need to work to enforce them and demand accountability. Let me know if you have other questions. Regards


Merci, Gostin. ¿Crees que sería relevante tener una versión del documental en Francés?


Congratulations Walter and CEGSS!! The video is excellent and really captures in a clear and concise way the tremendous power of the community defenders’ work.

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Thank you for this information, @WalterFlores. And I do agree that simply having laws is not sufficient to ensure marginalized communities are afforded proper healthcare. I applaud the work you do at CEGSS. Congratulations!

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bonjour encore Walter

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Gostin,Voudriez-vous voir une version de cette vidéo avec sous-titres en français? Je pose la question parce que nous pourrons peut-être produire une version à disséminer aux pays francophones.


Bien sur nous en avons besoins ce filme vous pouvez le produire et nous les envoyés , mais nous sommes une Organisation dénommées Action^pour la Justice, Paix et le Développement Endogene. Nous faisons une assistance multisectorielle de personne vulnerable d’accés à la justice, si vous connaisent les bailleurs qui finances ces activités vous pouvez nous donner leurs contacts.

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Truly inspiring! Thank you @WalterFlores for sharing.

For those of you interested in additional readings on the groundbreaking approach honed by CEGSS, please check out these valuable materials:

  • Read about the work of community defenders for the right to health from the perspective of a team of journalists, who spent a month in the field with defenders. They chronicled their firsthand experience with photos and stories, and published it in a major national newspaper. The English translation is available here.

  • The paper summarizes 10 years of CEGSS experience in attempting to involve rural indigenous communities in accountability demands and triggering authorities’ response. (Also available in Spanish.)

Yesterday, I met with Benilda of the CEGSS team, and Paulina, a public health defender. I learned so much from them about how to build a movement for legal empowerment and right to health from the ground up, and how to ensure that community members are the true leaders and decision-makers in this effort. The enormous challenges they are taking on, and the achievements they have made, set a standard for the rest of our movement.

I’m glad that CEGSS has made this documentary to share their experiences with others. I encourage everyone to watch this!


Thanks a lot Aby, for poiting at the additional material.

Red De Defensores y Defensoras Comunitarios por el Derecho a la Salud. Este documental corto relata la historia de la Red De Defensores y Defensoras Comunitarios por el Derecho a la Salud. La Red está conformada por usuarios de los servicios de salud que identifican problemas, dialogan con las autoridades para implementar soluciones y demandan rendición de cuentas: Audiovisuales – CEGSS

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This problem needs a solution because health is very important.

Great read. Though I have been working on rights to health in poorest local communities in Nigeria, but I can tell the work is enormous in this aspect.