Guadalajara’s Civil Hospital ‘Juan I. Menchaca’, has excelled by providing free medical care to indigenous people in recent years, caring for conditions such as child malnutrition, cancer, kidney problems and diabetes, said Xochitl Macedo, responsible for the indigenous communities module in this hospital.
Macedo said that “these diseases are different depending on ethnicity and by whether they live in the city or in their communities.”
She explained Wixarikas (indigenous people, living in the Sierra Madre Occidental range in the Mexican states of Nayarit, Jalisco, Zacatecas, and Durango best known as Huichol) usually require attention for malnutrition in children under five years and cancer, but there are also cases of tuberculosis or burns.
In the metropolitan area of Guadalajara, Macedo explained, indigenous migrants develop illnesses such as arterial renal failure, diabetes and hypertension, unseen in their original communities as they have other activities. She added that people from Michoacan come for lupus, urology or kidney stones.
She said that thanks to an agreement between the University of Guadalajara and the hospital, the Health Care Module for Indigenous Communities has served for 18 years, and is one of the first offering various free services to this population sector in western Mexico.
María Teresa Rodríguez, Social Work Coordinator at the hospital, said 420 indigenous people were admitted for hospitalization, diagnosis or surgery, during 2014; from which 176 were women and 106 children, which are the most vulnerable groups in these communities.
She said that patients come from ethnic groups from different country regions: Nahuas of Hidalgo and Jalisco, Mixtecos from Oaxaca, Wixarika from Nayarit and Jalisco, Zoques from Chiapas, Mazahuas from the State of Mexico, Purepechas and Tarascos from Michoacán, and Otomies from Queretaro.
She explained that family members feel more reassured when their traditional healer can visit the patient, particularly when the patient has a serious condition and is in the Intensive Care Unit. For this reason, doctors are aware of this and the guidelines of the hospital indicate that healers can review patients and give diagnosis to the family. She added that if necessary, traditional doctors are allowed to perform healing works that does not violate the rules of hygiene and safety of the hospital.
She noted that they also provide psychological care and food to relatives of patients, who, besides the poverty in which they live, are forced to temporarily leave their communities and support networks.
When necessary, staff helps them to seek funding for medical studies that cannot be done in the hospital; and in the case of death, family members are assisted to facilitate the body transfer to their communities, Rodriguez added.
She admitted that this hospital represents for many indigenous patients their last resort after a long journey through state and community health care centers.
Genoveva Carillo, who belongs to a Wixárika community, said that her son’s severe malnutrition decreased while they have been in the hospital. In order to care for her child, this woman has been alone, far from home and family for two months.
Genoveva is staying in a hostel belonging to a church near the hospital, which provides accommodation for indigenous people, and she is offered food in the dining room of the health unit. She says that she never received this attention anywhere else.
The specialists of the Civil Hospital reported that they will begin a large scale visit to diverse communities far from the city, to inform about the services offered by this module, so indigenous people can have the security of knowing where to so for diagnosis or treatment of any disease.
The specialists of the Civil Hospital reported that they will begin a large scale visit to diverse communities far from the city, to inform about the services offered by this module, so indigenous people can have the security of knowing where to go for diagnosis or treatment of any disease.