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MEXICO: Rural medical care

The idea of having graduates of Mexican medical schools serve in rural communities sounds great, but I wondered how it dovetails with the harsh reality I have seen in the Mexican countryside. I asked several people who know the situation personally, and one of them replied: " Sometimes I wonder if these people have been to medical school at all. They say and do absolutely the stupidest things you can imagine. This, combined with the absolute contempt they have for the rural populations, results in some of the most disgusting behavior I have witnessed. The medical care is appalling. Because there is no malpractice, and the people wouldn't know whether or not they had been badly served, you can imagine what goes on. It is unbelievably sad.

It is, in my opinion, criminal to turn these students loose on the desperate population. Because they have the title "doctor", they believe that they are absolutely infallible. They are almost inevitably totally lacking in humility and are extremely dictatorial. They make no effort to understand the population they serve. I realize that I sound extremely negative, but this is how I feel, based on what I have witnessed year after year after year. You should see the kinds of medications they give out and the things they prescribe. Most of the medical problems are based on dirt and infection, and yet they (the "practicantes") don't start aggressive programs about hand-washing and water purification, etc.

WAISers must read Finkler's Physicians at Work; Patients in Pain. She worked with some physicians at a Mexico City hospital (probably the Juarez Hospital). At first, I was angry with her, as I felt that she had betrayed the doctors who had kindly allowed her into their practice. When I thought about it, I realized that I have seen exactly what she did; I just wasn't courageous enough to ever say so! And these were not young doctors, but doctors in established practices working at a government facility. You really wondered how anyone ever got better".

Ronald Hilton - 5/26/02