The 2012 team of PPS students worked to expand on many of the projects and goals of the previous years. We made new friends and allies as we worked to expand preventative health care into rural Guanajuato, Mexico. This year, in addition to cardiovascular health and diabetes screening, we added vision screening to both sites.
In Juventino Rosas, the group introduced themselves to the new community leaders and were well-received. They worked tirelessly to build upon the reputation set by previous groups in the Juventino Rosas area.
In San Miguel de Allende, we solidified new relationships with the local Lion's Club and El DIF. Through the DIF programs, we were able to accomadate many more communities during our five weeks. Kip Palmer and the Lion's Club helped us in our vision screenings and provided free corrective lenses to anyone that needed them. Big thanks go out to Kip and the Lion's Club! We also made friends with Casa Esparanza, a Boys-and-Girls club based in San Miguel that caters to under-privilaged children and their families through educational and self-advancement programs.
Thanks to great work from last year’s group in selecting and preparing the most recent collection of students, the 2011 edition of PPS was a great success. While the two sites have developed somewhat different precise programs, they collaborated a great deal, and are working towards the same goal of improving the health of the rural communities in central Guanajuato. This goal is pursued through public health type interventions – health education talks, screenings for common diseases, and health fairs to not only help while the group is there, but also to form an investment in community health fostered within the communities themselves. Observational research, looking at BMI, undiagnosed diabetes, depression, and health behaviors is another aspect of the program, with the aim of targeting the key issues and the best approaches to address them.
The Juventino Rosas group continues to flourish, in large part thanks to the support of the welcoming and generous local church delegation. The group, comprised of four medical students and a public health student, saw over 300 patients, performed diabetes screening, blood pressure checks, and continued to give health education talks on a variety of topics, in 13 different communities in the area around Juventino Rosas. The MESA curriculum, creating depression support groups led by women from within the communities, was widely expanded this summer, and drew a great deal of interest and positive feedback from all involved.
The San Miguel de Allende site also enjoyed a successful summer, accomplishing a lot this year, but also laying the groundwork for a long term sustainable partnership in the community. The group focused on four communities, identified by last year’s students, with both need and interest for a more comprehensive program. The group performed vision screenings, with referrals to any children with impaired vision for free glasses at the local Lion’s Club – a generous service and much appreciated partnership. A series of health education talks ensued, covering topics ranging from nutrition to first aid to diarrheal disease. Health fairs were a key element as well, with glucose and blood pressure checks, as well as counseling regarding diet, exercise and resources available for help. Depression screening was initiated, with an eye towards evaluating for the need for expanding MESA’s support groups to a second site. Finally, the students met with a series of non-profits, NGOs and government programs to form partnerships and build something sustainable for the future. Groups like CASA (focused primarily on women and children, website: http://www.casa.org.mx/index_esp.html ), Feed the Hungry (a holistic nutritional support program, website: http://feedthehungrysma.org/ ) and the DIF (a public health oriented government program) were just a few of the great organizations with an investment in improving health in and around San Miguel. The group was struck by the enthusiasm and interest in partnerships – giving a great vision and optimism for the future of the site, and PPS in general.
After threats of H1N1 influenza made the trip temporarily seem an impossibility, the 2009 project was reconceived in late May. Six students from UNC School of Medicine, along with one Duke undergraduate, traveled to Juventino Rosas and performed a total of five weeks of health fairs in 11 surrounding communities. Juventino Rosas was selected out of the two sites in order to maintain the relationships the program had established in previous years as well as the continuity of ongoing projects. The project undertaken mainly focused on BMI, glucose, and cholesterol values and featured a general nutritional survey to provide information about eating habits and food availability in those communities. Afternoon health chats were also held focusing on hipertension and diabetes, targeting the dietary roles of salt intake and high-sugar foods, especially soft drinks. The data is currently being evaluated, with hopes of presenting posters with findings in the near future.
Photos from the 2009 trip may be found on our Photos page.
The 2009 team for PPS plans to continue longitudinal studies from previous years but is also enthusiastic about utilizing the efforts of past groups to enact community programs during this years trip. Five students will be collaborating with Dr.Luis Antonio Narvaez Contreras, a community leader in Juventino Rosas, to hold health screenings and educational talks focused on diabetes and cardiovascular disease - as has been done in previous years. Our research efforts are expanding to also examine health issues of the geriatric community as well as an ethnographic study of regional conceptions of chronic illness. This year we are excited to transition more energy into initiating several service projects: a series of community gardens in surrounding villages, a network of depression support groups for women and a system to increase primary care accesses in nearby rural towns.
San Miguel de Allende
This year, PPS is proud to debut a new project in the rural communities outlying San Miguel de Allende, also in Guanajuato state. San Miguel is located about 40 miles northeast of Juventino Rosas, and has become a popular relocation site for American expatriates.* Six students will be working with Dr. Salvador Quiroz, a nephrologist at San Miguel's Hospital de la Fe, on a project focused on diabetes and renal disease. In addition to conducting educational presentations on nutrition and diabetes in communities surrounding San Miguel, the group will be collecting data on endocrine and renal health status among patients in these outlying areas.
* For more info about San Miguel de Allende:
- San Miguel de Allende's tourism website: www.turismosanmiguel.com.mx/eng
- A recent article in the New York Times about San Miguel: