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“Non-governmental Organizations and Healthcare Delivery in Guatemala: Their Shifting Roles in a Changing Political Climate” Anna Christina Martínez-Hume

November 28, 2017 @ 11:00 am - 1:00 pm

Please join us for the dissertation proposal defense of “Non-governmental Organizations and Healthcare Delivery in Guatemala: Their Shifting Roles in a Changing Political Climate” by Anna Christina Martínez-Hume. This event will be held in 454 Baker Hall on November 28, 2017 from 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.


Since the 1980s structural adjustment programs have had dramatic impacts on the delivery of social services in many countries, especially healthcare. In the interest of liberalizing economic markets and stabilizing state finances, many national governments who had previously financed healthcare systems shifted healthcare provision to the private sector, and in many cases to the third sector, largely comprised of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and non-profits. Although NGOs are often used as facilitators of development by the state and by international institutions, scholars have argued that the capacities of NGOs are highly variable and subject to the push and pull of the macro-politics of international development agendas, funding sources, and state government. While the recent United Nation’s 2015 “Sustainable Development Goals” include universal healthcare coverage, decades of policies promoting privatization of healthcare and the reliance on NGOs to deliver healthcare, has yet to produce universal coverage in many countries, especially in Latin America.

Responding to an influx of multiple and competing political-economic influences, the third sector has had various roles in healthcare delivery in Latin America, from supplementing national healthcare systems to contributing to the privatization of healthcare markets. Guatemala has seen the largest proliferation of NGOs in the region, a significant portion of which are involved in healthcare. In recent years, the relationship between the Guatemalan government and healthcare NGOs has fluctuated dramatically in response to structural adjustment loan stipulations and a shifting national political climate. As the ideological supports for neoliberalism shift, healthcare delivery has changed radically. Despite the central role NGOs play in healthcare delivery in places like Guatemala, experiences of those working to deliver healthcare through NGOs in this fluctuating context is not well understood. As such, more attention to the impact of shifting macro-politics on the functionality of NGOs tasked with healthcare provision is needed. How do larger social, political and economic fluctuations impact NGOs and the people who work for them? In what ways do they shape what NGOs do and who they are as institutions?

This research seeks to examine the effect of shifting political contexts on NGO roles in healthcare. I will conduct research with representatives from two healthcare NGOs in Guatemala to 1) Identify what larger socio-political and economic factors and forces may affect NGO roles in healthcare delivery, such as the changing policies of state and local government, international institutions, and funders; 2) Examine how NGO personnel evaluate and respond to these social, political and economic forces impact on their functionality and healthcare agenda; 3) Explore the NGO personnel perspectives of the impact on their evolving NGO institutional identity.


November 28, 2017
11:00 am - 1:00 pm
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454 Baker Hall

United States

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Department of Anthropology