Starting in 2005 VAMOS! has provided medical services to anyone at any of our project locations. We have been able to do this thanks to annual grants from the Sisters of Providence. VAMOS! has contracted with a local general practitioner, Dr. Sofía Chávez Cabañas who has a wonderful way of working with our children and mothers. She carefully listens to each patient, diagnoses their medical problems and provides them with the necessary medicine to help them get better. According to Dr. Cabañas, malnutrition, poor living conditions and unclean drinking water cause most of the illnesses that she treats. The bad water results in parasitic diseases and crowded housing with dirt floors create the perfect condition for respiratory illnesses. The rampant malnutrition just makes everything worse. Through medicine we can often stop the infections, and our healthy meals and vitamin program attempt to put a dent in the malnutrition.
Health care is a topic that is in the news almost every day here in the U.S. However malnutrition is not an everyday topic as it is in Mexico. Globally, the greatest disparity between first and third world countries is in health care. Poor children in Mexico suffer from malnutrition and preventable diseases at alarming rates. And the malnutrition stunts a child’s body and brain from developing properly, and can cause a lifetime of health issues.
Dr. Cabanas visits one center every afternoon from Monday through Friday, according to a monthly schedule established by VAMOS!. This way, children and adults attending any of our Community Centers receive the benefits of our medical services, free of charge. These visits consist of on-site consultation and distribution of prescribed and over-the-counter medicines, all free of charge. Every year Dr. Cabanas provides more than 2,000 consultations and distributes more than 1,700 medicines to VAMOS! patients. In addition there are cases that are referred to our main office by Dr. Cabanas or by project coordinators at our community centers. VAMOS! has helped people with support for transportation expenses or for medications, laboratory tests and medical studies. They have been able to go the Children’s Hospital and Civil Hospital in Cuernavaca or to the Children’s Hospital and General Hospital in Mexico City to be treated for diseases such as: hypothyroidism, tumors, respiratory failure, asthma, cancer, lupus, pneumonia, breast cancer, severe burns and eyesight issues.
Since 2010 Dr. Sara Salones has led our Mobile Dental Services. She visits our ten community centers, providing general dental exams and cleaning, and then scheduling fillings, and more detailed work. She uses a portable dental unit which is moved as required among our centers. The basic dental services (extractions, cavities, cleaning and healing) are provided with this equipment. In addition Dr. Salones teaches all of our children how to properly brush their teeth and free toothbrushes are given out to take home. Each child also gets a toothbrush to keep at the VAMOS! center where hands are washed and teeth are brushed every day.
Mental Health Services
Beginning in 2005 VAMOS! has recognized the stress and trauma that living in extreme poverty causes. We began by offering mental health workshops to the mothers in our centers and that naturally evolved into women asking for individual sessions. VAMOS! hired a staff psychologist, Reyna María Cruz , to lead these important services. The majority of the cases related to children were referred from VAMOS! community centers and are cases related to hyperactivity, low school performance, attention deficit and aggressiveness. Teenagers present problems related to communication with their parents and a lack of interest in attending school. Adult women come because of problems with their partners, family violence and depression, and more and more women are reporting stress and anxiety due to the increased levels of violence around them and their children as a consequence of the fight for power among drug cartels within their communities. Topics for group workshops have included domestic violence, drug and alcohol abuse, self esteem and trauma informed care.