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K-State Today

April 18, 2017

Guatemalan physician to speak at open forum

Submitted by Linda Yarrow

The food, nutrition, dietetics and health department will host an open forum with Dr. Francisco Mendez, a physician in rural Guatemala, at 10:30 a.m. Monday, April 24, in 163 Justin Hall.

Mendez works in Guatemala's Lake Atitlán region, where about 30 percent of adults cannot read or write and 50 percent of the children are chronically malnourished. Half of the indigenous Mayan population lives below the poverty line. Mendez also works in a private practice in Guatemala City two days each week to fund his rural clinic, and he is starting a public hospital in his town of San Pedro.

Mendez grew up during Guatemala's Civil War, when about 170,000 Mayans died or experienced government-approved disappearances. Because he is Mayan, Mendez was at risk, but the Catholic Church gave his family protection because he wanted to become a priest. In high school, he decided to become a doctor instead, and the church continued protecting him because their region needed medical assistance. Mendez studied medicine in Guatemala City and the U.S. before returning to his home village to serve his people.

Mendez will speak on the Guatemala Civil War and the health, educational, economic and social challenges his people struggle with. 

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