January 19, 2012
From September to December 2011, I participated in the UC Davis Quarter Abroad in Oaxaca, México program also known as the Latino/a Health Internship Program. A combination of lectures on binational health, clinical rotations and brigades work, the program was a life-changing experience! Every aspect of the program helped me better understand how the culture and language, politics, immigration, among many other things affect the health delivery system in México. To get a close view of how primary care is delivered in México, we rotated through health clinics. First-hand, I was able to see how the national politics and corruption affects the quality of care. Many of the health care providers were very sure that the government had sufficient money to provide more health facilities (to ease the overcrowding), to increase the resources, and to update their medical technology. However, because of corruption, the money sent from the federal government was not arriving in the amount that it should. As a result, many of the doctors had to be resourceful with the tools they did have. On the flip side, the doctors at the health centers were very friendly with the patients. Instead of creating a setting of "I'm the doctor" and "you're the patient," there was a very dynamic and open relationship between the two parties that allowed for a welcoming environment. At the state general hospital, there were hundreds of people waiting for care. Financially strapped, with low resources, and not enough personnel to treat all the patients, the care patients received here would not be acceptable in the U.S. Often times, it seemed like we were working in an assembly line since the patient visits were sometimes very quick and impersonal. Observing this type of care, I was able to appreciate much more the services we CAN receive in the U.S. I highlighted the word "CAN" because we have to recognize that even in the United States with our world-class medical technology and treatments, not everyone is privileged enough to access them. The poor in México, in the United States or anywhere around the world, more often than not, receive the lowest quality of care. Part of the program, we spent three weeks in the spectacularly beautiful town of Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca, México. Here, we completed brigades work, which included group presentations at the health centers and at the local schools (elementary, middle and high schools) on family planning, gender roles, and tropical diseases (dengue, chagas, and malaria). This experience allowed us to be creative using skits, colorful diagrams, and demonstrations to teach the locals about issues affecting their communities. In particular, I really liked working with the students; they were very happy to have us there and full of questions. Overall, my experience in Oaxaca, thanks to the work of CFHI, was extraordinarily amazing!
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