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The new community-funded clinic in Xocoloyo. The new community-funded clinic in Xocoloyo.

Through residents’ own initiative, Puebla town has its first doctor

Residents pay monthly premium to support new clinic

Thanks to the efforts and financial contributions of its residents, a town in northern Puebla has a medical doctor for the first time in its history.

Residents of Xocoyolo, located in the Sierra Norte municipality of Cuetzalan del Progreso, have been asking state and municipal authorities to set up a clinic and send a doctor to their town for years.

They even took their plea to President López Obrador, submitting a letter to him during a visit he made to the nearby municipality of Zacapoaxtla last October. But as had occurred before, their request fell on deaf ears.

In that context, members of the town’s political committee decided to take matters into their own hands to ensure that residents could access the health care they require.

Now, not only is there a new clinic in town, dubbed “the Hope of Xocoyolo,” but also a resident doctor – Coral Anais Medina, who arrived from Tamaulipas last month.

Araceli Cerqueda, a retired nurse who is now volunteering at the clinic, told the newspaper El Universal that due to the inaction of authorities, residents decided to turn part of a local government building into a clinic themselves.

She explained that almost everything in the clinic including “the bed and the desk” are on loan from local residents but will eventually have to be returned.

Cerqueda explained that residents agreed to pay 150 pesos (about US $7) per family per month in exchange for medical care and medications, “if we have them.”

Part of the money is used to pay the salary of the resident doctor and the remainder goes to the purchase of medical equipment, supplies and medicines, she said.

The retired nurse said that a clinic was badly needed in Xocoyolo because a large number of the indigenous Nahua residents have chronic diseases such as hypertension and diabetes.

“We went around the community to announce the clinic and we found out that there are at least 350 diabetics; there are even 20-year-old people with the disease,” Cerqueda said.

In addition to treating chronic diseases, Medina has also detected five probable cases of Covid-19 since the clinic opened in mid-July. Volunteer nurses told El Universal that the cases were treated in the community because there are no Covid hospitals nearby.

Until April, Xocoyolo residents with chronic diseases or other medical issues traveled to the towns of Cuetzalan or Zacapoaxtla to see a doctor but appointments have been suspended due to the pandemic.

As a result, people with diabetes and high blood pressure didn’t receive the treatment they needed until the new clinic opened, said Medina, the recently-arrived doctor.

“Something that we mustn’t forget is that [in addition to] Covid, there are other serious illnesses that require attention,” she said.

According to volunteer nurses, up to 16 people a day are now attending appointments at the Hope of Xocoyolo.

Despite families contributing to the purchase of supplies, there is a constant need for more, Cerqueda said, adding that the clinic also lacks equipment.

“It would help us a lot to have an examination table and an oxygen tank,” she said, explaining that the latter is needed because of the town’s distance from the closest hospitals.

Source: El Universal (sp) 

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