Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Complexities of Health Care

                A few weeks ago, we received a speaker from the National Institute of Public Health.  This institute exists on both a state and federal level in Mexico. Their mission is to provide information to the public so they are able to make better health decisions.  To work toward this mission the National Institute of Public Health works in schools, with women and children, as well as doing community work.
    One topic Sandra spoke about that was very interesting to me was the complexity of the health care system in Mexico. I was able to see this complexity reflected when we visited Amatlan earlier in the semester.  This rural area often does not have doctors on site and patients must travel a long distance during a medical emergency. Also, the doctors that are present in this community may be lacking in culturally competency which is important when working with this community . Another piece of the Mexican health care system that I believe greatly impacts this community is the use of natural medicine. Although alternative and traditional types of medicine are widely used, especially in communities like Amatlan, they are not covered by health insurance.
                What I also found interesting was to learn about the different levels of care that impact access to medical services. Many people who work in the informal economy here in México cannot receive medical attention because they lack even the most basic form of medical insurance provided by the government,  Seguro Popular.  I believe this relates to Amatlan, because there are many people who live off the informal economy there.  However, there is health care for individuals who work within the formal sector such as IMSS, ISSS and IEST. This type of insurance gives these individuals better access to health services such as doctors and hospitals.
                I have learned many things about the National Institute of Public Health and access to health care throughout this semester. I was able to reflect upon the many issues that affect rural Mexico. Also, I was able to reflect upon the different levels of medical care that are in Mexico, and how this medical care is different for people who work in the informal and informal economy.

Do you believe there are differences between the healthcare provided within rural areas and urban areas in the United States? If so what are they? How do you think they affect people who live in these areas?

Alyssa Biddle (student)



  1. Thanks for this informative description of the landscape of health care in Mexico and the probing question focusing on similarities and differences with the landscape in the US. I'm sure that one similarity is the disparity of access to health care and adequate coverage depending on where one lives (e.g., which state and which part of the state all the way down to which neighborhood; in the US, health care coverage used to be tied to employment but now less so as fewer employers offer health insurance as a benefit. Your post reminds us, Alyssa, that social work is a health care profession, internationally! Tony Bibus, Augsburg College

  2. As Alyssa pointed out, healthcare in Mexico is a broad topic made up of many components. Many things stuck out to me during Dr. Sandra Treviño Siller’s (03/31/2014) talk on health care. One of the components she discussed was that many people in rural areas prefer dying in their communities than traveling to unknown cities to receive health attention. One thing I have taken for granted in my life is the easy access I have to resources such as stores and health centers. Making the decision to stay in your community and die peacefully there when you might have survived if you had received medical attention is a very powerful concept to me. In Mexico, health care in rural areas and in cities is very different. The medical field in rural areas often lacks resources, quality and intercultural training, and usually receives temporary doctors who stay for one year, while completing their year of social service. The decision to live or die is one strongly influenced by the systems that we live in. The difference in health attention and cultural understanding is one that is very diverse and problematic in many parts of the world and is an important topic to be aware of as individuals and as social workers.

    -Laura Holdrege

  3. I agree with the statements my classmates have made. Something I value from Dr. Sandra´s talk was her acknowledgement of the importance cultural competeency has in her work space. I could sense she very much valued her interactions with other humans. In addition, she was a committe/board of professionals looking for ways to improve services. I really enjoyed how personable she was and how she would relate back to her personal experiences. She also admitted her priveledge to attend a private doctor here in Mexico, which is something not very many health specialists like to recognize. I went through a personal experience where I had the opportunity to see the difference in care between a public and private hospital. This is not to say all public medical institutions are incapable of meeting the needs of people who attend them, but in that particular moment, I was ashamed at the work social workers and medical professionals were doing. It´s hard enough that individuals can barely afford to attend these medical resources put in place by the government, why make their efforts be in vain? It´s important both public and private spheres develop a system inclusive of individuals from numerous backgrounds. Let us stay in connection with professional collegues in medical and political realm to make this possible.

    Laura Aguas, St. Olaf College BSW

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