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MEXICO: Rural medical care

I posted a report (NOT by me) highly critical of Mexican medicine, especially in rural areas. Elias Castillo of Mexico comments: "Medicine in Mexico is woefully lacking. Doctors receive only six years of education and training and, in many cases, lack the knowledge, other than to diagnose the most common of ailments and injuries, colds, hernias, mumps, simple fractures, or lacerations. They lack the refined knowledge that doctors from developed nations must have after 12 to 13 years of education and training before they are turned loose on the public.

I heartily agree with the posting. During the six required years of medical school, Mexican doctors take only courses needed for their field so they are not imbued with the critical thinking that develops from taking courses outside their profession such as history, literature, economics, etc. They can best be described as techno-geeks in their personalities. Sadly, most are contemptuous of the lower income population in Mexico, although some that I have met, do have compassion for that segment.

While heart transplants are now occurring in Mexico, they are only at the highest level of medical care that is found only in Mexico City. Still, high income Mexicans with serious heart disease requiring surgery, travel to Houston or the Mayo Clinic for treatment, not trusting their nation's doctors.

The best medical care in Mexico comes from doctors who are U.S. trained and educated. For example, I had a distant relative, now deceased, who studied at Tulane University's medical school then completed his specialty in orthopedic surgery in Chicago. And, that was in the late 20s and early 30s. Until he retired in his 70s, because of failing eyesight, he had a booming practice that included providing orthopedic care for all of the diplomat corps and their families in Mexico City.

In Mexico City I met an oncologist who revealed that one of Mexico City's largest hospital, I can't remember which, did not have proper lead shielding in the walls of its radiation department, allowing dangerous radiation to easily pass through and affect people on the other side. She also said that when a quantity of radium was spilled in a hallway, resulting in dangerous radiation levels, there was no decontamination other than janitors sent in to mop up the floor. Neither patients nor medical staff were evacuated. Despite protests from doctors, the hospital has done nothing to safeguard the department. She admits that she has received so much radiation from leakage that she expects not to live past her late 40s. She has not left the hospital because it is so short staffed in the oncology department that without her, many patients would not receive the critical treatment they need.

Mexican medical schools are aware of their shortcomings but are so smug they consider it too much trouble to expand and improve the requirements for their graduates".

My comment; I wonder how many US doctors would pass an examination in "history, literature, economics".

Ronald Hilton - 5/28/02