Neuroscience is the study of the human mind, an area that scientists have not finished exploring, and Guatemalan Gabriela Asturias focuses her efforts on understanding the brain and how it generates thoughts, feelings, memories, and understanding when There are failures to restore them. ,
During this year he took care to highlight the importance of mental health. It is common to see messages supporting the population in this area in their social networks and passages on how to access care.
As part of this work, he focused research on the capacity of the public health system to provide mental health services at the first level of care, particularly in the municipalities of La Blanca (San Marcos) and Tecpan, (Chimaltenango). in.
In the first findings, the lack of experts in rural areas and the low budgetary allocation by the state on this issue were evident.
“One hypothesis I’d like to test is meditation in support groups or group therapy.”
In Guatemala and Latin America we look for community a lot, we draw closer to peers, people who have similar experiences. I think one of the ways is to start offering services at the community level through these treatments,” Asturias says.
In countries with scarce resources for mental health care, this could be a solution to expand coverage and reach rural areas.
The scientist is in his fifth year of medicine at Stanford University, California, USA, and aims to specialize in child psychiatry.
Due to her achievements, Prensa Libre selected Gabriela Asturias as a prominent figure in the field of public service in 2022.
“I always wanted to be a scientist,” she mentions, and this inspired her to study neuroscience and graduate from Duke University in North Carolina, United States.
There she became involved in a project to support university students in mental health care, and is now working on cloning a proposal to implement it in Guatemala, since moving to the United States with a scholarship. He has not lost contact with Guatemala.
Fundegua is part of the projects it has developed in the country the Foundation seeks to drive development through scientific research, technology and innovative solutions. From that account, emerged ALMA, a chatbot of which Asturias is the co-creator. The space made its presence in the messaging system in 2020 to support Guatemalans during the pandemic and answer questions about COVID-19.
This year, ALMA went further and expanded its support to other aspects of health, providing information on other diseases transmitted by vectors, such as HIV and cancer. Apart from clearing doubts about vaccination and places where people can get medical help.
“We are changing from communicable to non-communicable diseases (diabetes, hypertension, heart and kidney diseases), this transition towards being a companion during chronic illness is the future of Alma”, he said.
The telephone number 1-801-00-54321 was also able to bring the service closer to the population, and with this idea it is available in different municipalities: Chichicastenango (Quiche), Totonicapán (Totonicapán), Tecpan (Chimaltenango), Concepcion Chiquirichpa. (Quetzaltenango), Esquipulas (Chiquimula), Chisec (Alta Verapaz) and Santiago Atitlán (Solola).
In order to increase contact with the people of Guatemala, communication in ALMA is in Spanish, Mam, Kaqchikel, Ke’che’, Cu’echi’ and Tzutujil.
love for guatemala
“Since I was 18 years old, before moving to the United States, I promised myself that I would never leave Guatemala. It was difficult to decide to leave and every time I come back I am convinced of my love for the country, which is beautiful”, indicates Asturias.
This connection with their people inspires them to continue research into mental health care at the community level, and they hope to publish the findings in 2023, in addition to expanding the chatbot’s services.
Another project in which scientists work is NCendate Guatemala, which was created in 2017 and is in the process of expansion. It was born as a tool for children and youth to access their potential to transform their community and country. Through science, engineering and innovation. The next step is to train leaders to become facilitators in their environment.