Mount Sinai Volunteers with Saving Mothers to Bring Better Prenatal Care to Guatemala

Mount Sinai Physician Assistant, Jessica Oliveira and Dr. Taraneh Shirazian, Director of Mount Sinai Global Women’s Health, attended a graduation this past May in Santiago, Guatemala.

The graduation marked the end of a 16-week program for 22 comadronas (birth attendants) enrolled in the school of POWHER (Providing Outreach in Women’s Health Education and Resources). The school is funded by Saving Mothers, a 501c3 nonprofit dedicated to reducing maternal mortality and morbidity, for which Dr. Shirazian is the co-founder and Medical Director.

“Thanks to the hard work of Saving Mother’s Guatemala Program Director, Jessica Oliveira, we were able to train 22 birth attendants to perform prenatal exams with basic assessments of maternal-health, such as blood pressure and fetal Doppler, and to appropriately refer high-risk women,” says Dr. Shirazian. Dr. Juan Chumil, Medical Director of the Centro de Salud in Santiago, and Dr. Diego Hernandez, District Director for the Ministry of Health also attended the graduation, expressing their gratitude for Saving Mothers’ continuous efforts to reduce maternal mortality and morbidity.

Almost 800 women die every day due to complications in pregnancy and childbirth, with the majority being from developing areas¹. Providing women with education and quality care before, during and after childbirth helps reduce maternal and fetal death. The comadronas enrolled in the school of POWHER arrive with a very basic understanding of obstetrical care, having received the majority of their training from previous generations. The POWHER trainees are eager to learn and want to provide the women in their community with the best care possible. Saving Mothers hopes the school of POWHER will be a sustainable approach to eliminating maternal and fetal mortality and morbidity.

To learn more about maternal-health programs in Guatemala, please visit Saving Mothers at


Kim Abruzese, RDMS, is Senior Sonographer at Mount Sinai Hospital for the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Communications Manager for Saving Mothers.

¹World Health Organization

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