On May 22nd a Health Fair was held at the Convention Center here in Mazatlan. Organized by the University of Durango, Vecinos Con Carinos was the main sponsor. As I am a member of Vecinos Con Carinos, I volunteered my time at this event. The goal of this event was to provide free consultations with health care professionals to people from the poorer areas of this city.
While it is true that there exists a free health care plan for all Mexican citizens, many people do not have access to Seguro Popular. Here in Mexico there are many home births which results in births not being registered. If a person is not registered, they are unable to access Seguro Popular. Also, many people are unable to afford the bus fare needed to take them to a facility. These people live in shanties or may be squatters. They have no running water nor do they have electricity. The children usually do not attend school. There is no money for uniforms or supplies required even in the public schools here.
One of the other volunteers also volunteers in an outreach program with La Vina. She recognized one of the ladies attending the Health Fair from one of the church’s programs. The woman told her that she had taken three buses to get to the Convention Center that day. She now had no money to return home. She wasn’t familiar with the city and hadn’t realized that three buses were needed to get to the Health Fair. The volunteer gave her the money so that she could return home. And that is only one story.
The majority of the health care professionals present that day were medical students, residents in their final year. Booths were set up with topics ranging from birth control to psychiatry. The most popular booth by far was gynecology, where women were given pelvic exams. What most of us take for granted as a part of our annual physical was something many of these women had never experienced in their lifetimes.
While it was encouraging to see so many people come to the Health Fair that day, I can’t help but think how many more people may have been helped had professionals gone out to the poorer areas instead of having the people come to the Convention Center. More comfortable in their own environment, and only a walk away instead of a tedious bus ride, hundreds more could have been helped and perhaps even lives could have been saved. But overall, the event was a success.
The following are some of the photos I took that day: