Objective: To identify and document access barriers to health care services for the indigenous population in Rabinal, Guatemala.
Material and methods: A qualitative analysis was used. Over a period of two months, 20 semi-directional interviews were conducted in Rabinal, Guatemala: 15 with Achis indigenous people and five with health professionals. A focus group was done to verify the information collected during the individual interviews. The qualitative analysis was based on the transcription of interviews and the compilation of the data.
Results: Barriers to access are inter-relational. Geographic barriers include distance and a significant lack of means of transportation. Economic barriers are the cost of office visits and medicine. Among the cultural barriers, the Spanish language is an obstacle. Indigenous people have other concepts of medicine and treatments and they complain on occasion of abuse by health professionals. At the same time, health professionals recognize that the trauma of the civil war is still present and criticize the poor living conditions and the lack of resources.
Conclusions: Health care services in Rabinal are inadequate and insufficient for responding to the needs of the local population.