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Global Health Partners Kick Off Community-Based Care Initiatives in Mexico

May 1, 2023

A number of medical professionals in scrubs having discussions with people seated in foldable chairs.

BUAP students and clinical team members meeting with local patients in a community health outreach activity.

In a cross-disciplinary collaboration, 101 BUAP students and interns, residents from the university hospital and clinical faculty held patient consultations and health promotion talks from March 15-16 with two communities in the first AMPATH/MAPAS Mexico “Jornada Integral de Salud,” a comprehensive health outreach event.

From clinical consults and physical therapy sessions to stations focused on nutrition counseling, preventive dental care and on-site health talks, the community auditorium in rural Puebla brimmed with health activities for two full days. The lead team of faculty, students, staff and partners stayed busy engaging with the community, and they wrapped up each day’s work with a shared meal in the community’s open-air dining area. 

Bringing Global Health to the Underserved

Under the leadership of Dell Med’s Rebecca Cook and BUAP’s Rosa Lidia Muñoz, this event officially established the clinical care pillar of AMPATH/MAPAS Mexico, a long-term academic global health partnership.

Also present was Patricia Vargas, director of Fundación Comunitaria Puebla, the community-based organization that Dell Med has worked with since the partnership began in 2019. “It was a very productive Jornada,” said Vargas. “It’s great commitment on the part of the community leaders, the community health committee and the AMPATH/MAPAS Mexico team.”

The event’s aim was threefold:

  • Provide services for the prevention and early detection of chronic diseases by assessing body mass index, blood pressure and lab results for those identified at high risk, along with clinical assessment and counseling.
  • Bring multidisciplinary services not available at the local health center directly to underserved communities.
  • Activate community focus on the prevention, monitoring and self-management of chronic diseases.

Serving the primarily agricultural communities of San Francisco Xochiteopan and Colonia Agrarista, the volunteer team held 312 patient consultations and hosted over 100 people at presentations on health topics including first aid, diabetes and the importance of physical activity. 

This year’s services spanned internal medicine, OB-GYN, pediatrics, physical therapy, ultrasound, dentistry, nutrition and an on-site pharmacy support. In addition to involving medical students from BUAP alongside clinical faculty and residents, the team included students and faculty from BUAP’s nutrition, physiotherapy and dentistry departments.

Twelve on the team are in their “pasante,” or social service year, and have been participating in a longitudinal curriculum in global health with AMPATH Mexico with regular service-learning visits in these underserved communities. They served as the trainee leaders for the various stations of the Jornada.

Strengthening an International Partnership   

“This is not a one-off event; rather it’s part of a long-term commitment to partner with underserved communities in improving their health and well-being,” said Cook. “We anticipate continuing with these regular health outreaches three to four times a year to support the existing public primary care clinic. And with time, we’ll expand this reach to additional communities. Just as important, we are building the relationships and the capacity in the community to serve as agents of change to improve their health.”

The communities of San Francisco Xochiteopan and Colonia Agrarista have populations of 984 and 305, respectively. They are served by a single public primary health care center, located one hour from the closest referral hospital, partially on unpaved roads and with no public transportation. Volunteer events like the Jornada support these communities’ access to comprehensive care services and positively impact health outcomes.

About AMPATH/MAPAS Mexico

AMPATH/MAPAS Mexico is a collaboration between Dell Med’s Division of Global Health, the BUAP Facultad de Medicina and the Mexican public health sector. Together, they apply an academic model to improve the health and well-being of underserved communities, strengthen training and advance the research missions of all partners.

Through these three pillars, approximately 1,603 people have been served thus far, with the eventual aim to impact care across the state of Puebla (population 6.2 million). Funded in part by a grant from Eli Lilly and Company and individual donors, the Mexico initiative is an adaptation of the model established as AMPATH Kenya over thirty years ago.

“This Jornada is an important milestone for AMPATH/MAPAS México,” said Cook. “It was deeply inspiring and humbling to witness the generous investment of time, resources and capacity of the community leaders and health committees. We are beginning to address the important health needs and priorities shared in the 2019 needs assessment. And it aligns so well with Dell Med’s efforts to rethink the role of academic medicine in improving health and to move outside of our classrooms and hospitals and into the community for collaboration.”