Thelma Velasquez Herrera, MD

Portrait of Thelma Velasquez Herrera

Dr. Velasquez’s interest in medicine started early in her childhood after experiencing the poor health care system in her country. At first, her main goal was to become a good doctor, then she realized that she could be a good pediatrician. When the door was opened to start her pediatric hematology-oncology fellowship, she felt her dream became reality. As a pediatric oncologist, she has experienced the multifactorial issues that have led to delayed diagnoses in her patients. Looking for a solution, she realized that it will require strengthening the education of primary health care providers (physicians and other professionals) and the government.  This can change the reality not only for pediatric cancer, but for many other issues in her country.

Dr. Velasquez earned her Pediatric Hematologist-Oncologist degree in 2016 for the University Francisco Marroquin in Guatemala City, Guatemala. During her fellowship she had the opportunity to make an Observational Practice at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and in the Istituto di Tumori da Milano, where she had the opportunity to improve her knowledge in malignant hematology and solid tumors.

Dr. Velasquez currently works in the Unidad Nacional de Oncologia Pediatrica (UNOP), a pediatric cancer unit in Guatemala, where she is an Attending Hematologist-Oncologist. She is also a consultant for acute myeloid leukemia, soft tissue sarcomas and osteosarcoma within Guatemala. Dr. Velasquez is an Associate Professor of the Pediatric Hematology-Oncology Fellowship that currently trains professionals from all over Central America and The Caribbean.

“The partnership between UNOP and St Jude Children’s Research Hospital has made real the possibility of giving high quality treatment and an opportunity to be cured to children with cancer in Guatemala, regardless of our limited resources. This required a lot of work, passion and commitment from the whole team to fight for one cause: to save children with cancer.  The Master of Science in Global Child Health will develop my abilities to find resources within the health care system to sustain UNOP, to propose and apply evidence-based feasible solutions to our problems and hopefully, to strengthen one of the weaknesses of the health system: the primary care centers.”

Education

MD - University San Carlos De Guatemala, Guatemala City, Guatemala