Completed Partnerships: ASSADE

Maria Elena, founder of ASSADE (Association for Health and Development Guatemala), has always been passionate about community health. She spent years working as a nurse, serving disadvantaged communities alongside her brother, who worked as a doctor at the same government hospital. During the Guatemalan civil war, many healthcare professionals, including her brother, were targeted and killed. This tragedy emboldened Maria Elena to do even more to support the local, marginalized communities.

In 2004, Maria Elena left the hospital and founded ASSADE as a tribute to her brother and all those killed during the war. In 2007, ASSADE became a registered non-profit organization. ASSADE is in the highlands in San Andrés Itzapa, Guatemala, an area where malnutrition and poor water quality present many health challenges for the largely indigenous communities.

Looking at the distribution of funds the Guatemalan government makes towards general developments including health (US$0.90 per person for non-Mayans vs. US$0.30 per person for Mayans), it’s clear that the system is not only broken, but discriminatory. ASSADE works to counteract this by focusing on reaching and serving some of the most marginalized, indigenous communities in the country. ASSADE provides critical primary health services and health education to an average of 800 vulnerable persons monthly. Approximately 60% of the patients are children and the remainder are mostly women.


GoPhil and ASSADE worked together from 2006 till 2021. During that time, our GoPhil community supported ASSADE and their work in several key ways by:

  • Contributing to the running costs of the ASSADE Dental Clinic, including salary support for a full-time dentist, which increased the operating hours of the clinic from 12 to 40 hours per week.
  • Providing clean water filtration systems to families in the San Andrés Itzapa region who lack access to safe drinking water. These filtration systems, when delivered with education, are proven to reduce up to 82% of gastrointestinal diseases in the families served.
  • Supporting educational and preventative activities aimed at improving public oral health. ASSADE mobilizes community engagement agents to lead the way and foster community communication, collaboration and cohesion.
  • Supporting the salary of key staff members.
  • Providing essential cryotherapy equipment, allowing ASSADE to focus on HPV and cervical cancer detection. In a country where 35% of the indigenous female population are living with HPV, this is a critical resource for local women.
  • Funding the purchase of a new, state-of-the-art ultrasound machine, increasing access to accurate diagnosis and quality treatment to indigenous in the community. This is now the only ultrasound equipment available in this rural region of Guatemala.
  • Providing emergency support grants for PPE, sanitization materials, nebulizers and medicines during the pandemic.