GUAMAP - Guatemala Acupuncture and Medical Aid Project
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GUAMAP's Acupuncture Training

Curative & Community Based Health Care

Basic Acupuncture Training Program

GUAMAP established training protocols in 1999 for the basic (level I) and intermediate (level II) students, and in 2007 / 2008 in level III.  Two seven day long trainings are held in addition to two half day monitorings between the trainings. Upon completion, acupuncturists gained competencies in needling techniques & precautions, point location, meridian identification,and twenty-two unique medical conditions to treat.  

Typical Two Year Basic Training Schedule:

Training dates vary due to agricultural & environmental conditions.

Year I:
           Feb/March:1st seven day intensive workshop.
           June:  Half day monitoring meeting with trainees.
           Aug./Sept: 2nd seven day intensive workshop.
           Nov:   Half day monitoring meeting with trainees.
Year II:  
           Feb/March: 3rd seven day intensive workshop.
           June:Half day monitoring meeting with trainees.
           Aug/Sept:4th &Final seven day intensive workshop.
           Nov: Half day monitoring meeting with trainees.

Typically a late February seven day training is followed by a May monitoring, and then a late August training is followed by a November monitoring. The pattern repeats in year two. At the onset of the first training in Year II the health promoters receive the GUAMAP acupuncture manual which greatly increases the scope of treatable medical conditions.

Conditions Treated in Basic Training:

Trauma Related: anxiety, PTSD.
Addictions:Chemical and other (NADA protocol)
MusculoSkeletal Pain:knee, shoulder, lumbar, neck, head, elbow, ankle.
Infections/Viral:cold, flu, fevers (includes Gwasha), vomiting, diarrhea or dysentery, sinusitis, chills, urinary infection.
Other:appendicitis, pneumonia, malaria.

For detailed information on the training model see our 2006 APHA presentation -Sustainable Rural Health Model

Re-Certification & Trainer Training

Annual re-certificaction workshops were held from 2002 for acupuncturists already certified in levels Basic I and II, with the exception of 2011 to date in 2014. A  trained acupuncturist was certified by GUAMAP as a trainer in 2007 and began training other health promoters in level I as an assistant to professional volunteer acupuncturists. A Guatemalan trainer and two assistants will teach a two year basic course was planned for 2015-2017.


GUAMAP provides, through donations, disposable needles in its training and re-supply functions. In 2013, Direct shipment of needles from the United States clearing Guatemalan Customs was achieved.

Patient Load

GUAMAP trainers and GUAMAP trained health promoters  recorded 10k treatments in 2007, and up to 20 k treatments annually in the Department or State of Peten,Guatemala by 2014. GUAMAP developed a method of data collection to record outcomes through patient registries for a study in 2006. Patient registries are kept by individual practitoners.


Requests for training for particular diseases and conditions come from GUAMAP trained community acupuncturists and GUAMAP professional volunteers design curriculum to meet those needs. Some communities have already been trained in working with emergency situations employing acupuncture. Other areas of medicine that curriculum was prepared and taught with include: Women's conditions, obstetrics, pediatrics, and emergency pediatrics in times of natural disasters. GUAMAP trainers and staff have produced two manuals, both in Spanish: one in basic acupuncture and one in emergency medicine.

Trainings Log

2014 (May): Emergency Pediatrics for Natural Disasters.

Substantive curricular support from Vancover, Canada acupunturists Ryan Thompson and Irene Celis Sanchez in pediatrics and obstetrics supplied material for Tim Blee from Tucson, Arizona and interpreter Kathy Brewer to update, modify, and sequence Emergency Pediatrics with GUAMAP's Blake Gentry to emphasize differential case diagnosis.

Sept/Oct.2013:Pediatrics and Obstetrics

Ryan Thompson and Irene Celis Sanchez taught pediartic DX and TX for: Physiological Characteristics of Children
Diarrhea, Asthma, Pneumonia, Common Cold, Extra Point (Si Feng) for Infantile Malnutrition, and Ni Ji massage Tui Na Method for treating fever and diarrhea in Children.they Also taught Obstetrics DX and TX for:Points to avoid during pregnancy, Body position for needling pregnant women,
General rules to follow for women during pregnancy – such as lifestyle and diet, Conditions to be aware of Calculating the birth date of the baby,Morning sickness, Anemia, Bleeding in pregnancy, Threatened miscarriage,  Habitual Miscarriage, Hypertension in Pregnancy – symptoms and signs Post Partum Depressionl Placenta Encapsulationl Insufficient Lactation

2012 (April): Level III TCM Theory and Diagnostics[/b]

Nina Iasscson (acupunturist) taught TCM theory with rextraorindal vessels, meridians, pulses;and moxa use reviewed. Scott Iasscson(EMT) distributed blood pressure cuffs (Sphygmomanometer) and stethoscopes and instructed the health promoters/ acupuncturists how to use then are read the gauges.
2010 (April/May): Women's Conditions & Pediatrics + Level III TCM Diagnostic Skills

Training Delegation to Peten,Guatemala[/u]

Three North American GUAMAP volunteer acupuncturists and our 25 health promoter acupuncturists in Poptún, Petén came together in April and May 2010 for two trainings.  One training covered womens´conditions and a short section on pediatric acupuncture. The other was an advanced training in Traditional Chinese Medicine(TCM) diagnostics for the three most advanced health promoters. Volunteers returned May 13 and provided detailed reports (after June 10, see "Projects" for details) Congratulations and a big "thank you" to Nancy Issenman (Victoria, B.C.), Eric Aufdencamp (Auden, North Carolina) and new GUAMAP volunteer Mateo Bernal (Louisville, Kentucky) for conducting these successful intensives!

April 28 - May 1:
Canadian acupunturist Nancy Issenman and US acupunturist Mateo Bernal traveled to Peten, Gautemala.

May 2 - May 5:
The Acupuncture Training Workshop on Women's Health Conditions was held for 24 acupuncturists in Poptun at Centro Kerigma Quetzal in Poptún. Two public clinics, conducted by the promoters, were  held for women in the local community.
May 5:
The Peten Acupunturists held their Fourth Annual Assembly, a lively meeting in which acupuncture practice in the Peten is reported on. Training requirements, documentation of treatments, pricing of treatments and patient care were frequent issues of discussion.  

May 6:  
24 health promoter acupunturists reviewed their individual cases and were quizzed on point location by local promoter instructors Miguel Solval Gordillo (with GUAMAP since 1997) and Manuel Caal Caal (with GUAMAP since 1999)

May 7 - May 12:
Level III advanced Class on TCM Diagnostic skills was taught to three advanced students. Two half day clinics for all types of conditions were held, with emphasis on accurate diagnosis using tongue and pulse.



The initial population we served from 1995-2001 were resettled and internally displaced refugee communities in the Peten and the Alta Verapaz regions.  
Community clinics provided treatments in situ which reduced medical and transportation costs for patients. They are now integrated into the rural areas where their communities are located. These communities' medical clinics provide treatments, including acupuncture and midwifery services. Our work in training acupuncturists then entered a second phase after 2001.

Previously scattered Ke'kchi communities began training by GUAMAP since 2002 GUAMAP is moving away from basic training while GUAMAP Guatemalan acupuncturists began to teach basic courses in 2007, as GUAMAP solidifies a higher level of training in level III, and offers specialty courses. As part of our presence in the community clinics, we are also looking at promoting the use of local plant medicines, and re-supplying acupuncture needles of various sizes.

Between 1994 and 2002, GUAMAP worked in cooperation with an NGO, ADEPAC based in Guatemala City, with a field office in the Peten. By 2003, GUAMAP worked in cooperation with ASESCA's Peten office. GUAMAP provides acupuncture training using Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for health promoters who were earlier trained in health education as health promoters. Health promoters then use what they learn to treat men, women and children in their home communities. Since 1995, GUAMAP has trained some 125 health promoters in the northern region, reaching over 20 different communities.

Assembly of Peten Acupuncturists

An Assembly of 15 Peten Acupuncturists was formed in 2006 and expanded to 25 in 2007.
At that time a fee was established for charging rural patient at a minimal level. The assembly passed fifteen protocols for the regulated practice of acupuncture in Peten in 2006,informing communities and the Ministry of Health regional office in Peten. In 2007 and 2008, a few new protocols were passed regarding requirements for monitoring and needle distribution.

Cooperation between the Ministry of Health led to their distribution of bio-boxes to acupuncturists and a verbal response in 2007 to a long standing request of GUAMAP and ASECSA's for sanitary disposal of medical waste.

Petition for Credentials
In November 2008, a meeting with Dr. Obanda at the Poptùn Area Regional Health Office in which two representatives of the Peten Acupuncture Committee for the Assembly, the Director of ASECSA-Peten Office, Two GUAMAP Coordinating Committee Members and the Director of the Poptun Health Promotion Program of the Catholic Vicariate of Peten presented a petition for cooperation with the Secretaria de Salud in issuing and maintaining standards for certification of Peten acupuncturists. There was not immediate positive response. ASECSA (Peten Office)subsequently issued identification I.D. for acupuncturists and maintains them through 2014.

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