Wabash Blogs Health Care in Chiapas

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Lots of Thoughts

This is a long post since it’s been a while. Thanks for reading.

Over the last week, I was shadowing a doctor in his work on preventative measures to control the spread of disease in the area around San Cristóbal at ISSSTE. This is what I mentioned in my last post. I have been thinking about a lot more than just the shots I’ve watched nurses administer. In my biology classes at Wabash I learned about diseases and their transmission. In my political science and economics classes I learned about globalization and central power theory. In my history classes with Dr. Warner I learned about the history of Latin America, a part of the world rich in resources but prone to corruption. I learned about Mexico’s history and its relationship with the US over time. Here I can see first hand the problems that the developing world faces.

I guess what has affected me most, is hearing about border crossing and the implications it has on families, economics, and international politics. The mother of one child we vaccinated explained her concerns for her brother who had head the US to earn money. The people here are genuinely struggling to make a living. They leave behind families to seek better opportunities and more money. Here Mexicans work very hard but are short of employment. Even people with post-secondary degrees struggle to find jobs. The current Mexican government seems to be heading in the right direction, trying to make its actions more transparent to increase confidence and credibility. The government web pages are being revitalized and less money is being wasted on unnecessary things.

I’ve found myself at conflict here though because I tend to fall into idealism, and I have had to realize that there are several limiting factors that are going to keep parts of the world like this from developing very quickly. I guess one thing that is going to limit this over the next several decades is population growth. Here in Mexico, preventative health experts are facing serious problems. Weekly reports of diagnoses all over the country show that when vaccinations are available, Mexican health officials can generally control infectious agents causing tetanus, meningitis, gastroenteritis, poliomyelitis, and many other diseases. The government fortunately has the resources to administer vaccinations, but the realities of international relations prevent this from always happening. Countries like Korea and India are large producers of the vaccines that Mexico uses. Because of population growth, there are strict quotas on vaccination exports to countries like Mexico.

Today I was happy to hear from Dr. Castro that the Secretary of Health has started an effort to develop and produce vaccines and other biological agents for the control of disease. They are calling on Mexicans all around the world that work as research scientists and engineers to come back and help in an effort to protect Mexicans from preventable diseases. This made me think about a paper I wrote in Latin American history. My hope was that strong nationalism could help struggling Latin American countries advance and develop into countries with stronger economies, higher qualities of life, and honest politics. Now, I am by no means an expert on anything related to Latin American politics or Latin American history, but my liberal arts education (thanks to Wabash), has led me to make some interesting observations. This is an amazing way to create a sustainable industry within Mexico that could create more jobs, as well as provide for a demand that is seriously under supplied. It could prevent the spread the spread of disease and overtime cut down on the amount of financial resources expended in responding to outbreaks or on individual treatment. Maybe then, the efforts in place for social development in Mexico could become more effective; Goals for improving water supply and sanitation would become more realistic, for example. I grew up in a place where we don't have to worry about getting a parasite from drinking tap water. I grew up in an environment where I had the resources to get eyeglasses or dental care if I needed it.

These are small things we often take for granted. So as I mentioned, I feel nationalism could help these Latin American countries advance, but I also see a strong international awareness of the worlds problems as absolutely necessary. It’s going to be interesting to see how immigration is controlled over the next ten years, but my hopes are that whatever is done is sensitive to the reality facing Mexico, and I hope to see strong lines of communication and cooperation between our world’s leaders. Doctors here in Chiapas are very aware of the situation of the national government and international politics in terms of healthcare. That’s the kind of doctor I aspire to be. It’s amazing how much one person like Dr. Luis Castro can do. He and his team of vaccination techs do marvelous jobs in keeping people from getting sick, helping them obtain treatment when they are, and educating them on the resources they do have access to. These are the minds that are struggling to find solutions for Mexico.

It’s hard for me to get any pictures in the workplace, but I may be able to post some soon. On the weekends, I have been fortunate enough to make some trips. Last weekend I went with one doctor and his family to see a beautiful canyon just about an hour from San Cristobal. Here’s a photo of the scenery from last Sunday. Have a nice weekend. Next time you hear from me will hopefully be with news from my next experience at a newly built hospital in San Andes Larrainzar, a small community in the Tzotzil indigenous area. I will probably have some information to share with you regarding the Zapatistas you may have heard about in Chiapas. I am going to see a documentary about them tonight.