Zapatistas Communities reach self-sufficiency in health services

Autonomous Clinics are able to perform surgeries and practice basic analysis.

Zapatistas Communities reach self-sufficiency in health services.

The situation in our communities has changed, and not because of the government, said health promoters

EZLN Health Promoter evaluates a sample with an electronic microscope in the laboratory at Esperanza de los Pobres Clinic, in the Autonomous Municipality Lucio Cabañas Huistan, where people of Zapatistas and Non-Zapatistas communities are treated.
Hermann Bellinghausen/ Journalist
Autonomous Municipality 17 November.The health situation in our communities has changed, and not because of the government, but ourselves. Now, a kid rarely dies because of diarrhoea, and when there is a case, it is isolated and treated. Our children don’t die anymore”. However, maintaining health is difficult in practice”, says Jose, responsible for the health commission in this Caracol. “Any workshop or training comes with the particular necessities of every community, and with the work of the health promoters, we discuss illnesses suffered by our people”.

With some dismay, He says “where the government sees an Autonomous Clinic, an IMSS (Mexican Institute for Social Security) clinic is opened to compete”.  At the beginning, “they win, because they promise a lot and open programs, but soon don’t provide the attention, and there is lack of medicines, lack of equipment or equipment goes unused.

Moreover, “the government tries to pay off our health promoters, and if they don’t accept, they start discrediting them and generating problems with the people who are not are not in Zapatista resistance. But We are here because of awareness and not for money”.

At any moment, emergencies which require special treatments in hospitals can happen. “In the autonomous clinics there are ambulances, or at least a car, to take very ill people to “San Carlos” Hospital in Altamirano or to the civil hospital in Sn Cristobal Las Casas, but we also perform some surgeries at the Autonomous Hospitals in Oventik and Sn Jose Del Rio”.

The Health promoters follow pregnancy cases, “and almost all women have their babies in the communities, and if possible, in their own houses, where a health promoter is there, but if a case is difficult, they bring her to the clinic where a gynaecology room exists”. Women’s care also includes cervical cancer detection, prevention and infections attention. Also health brigades are constantly active.In the area of Caracol of Morelia “there are around 200 health promoters, covering different areas such as women, dentistry or general attention”. Coordination among areas of Tzotz Choj region started since 1999. “Before, each area was organized by itself, this changed since 1994” says Jose.

The Clinic of 17th November Municipality, Salvador Corazon de Jesus,  was established in the community of Morelia, years before the uprising and hasn’t stopped working. This clinic has a surgery room, pharmacy, basic analysis laboratory, gynaecology room and dental clinic, and is formed by 5 buildings and 4 health promoters see patients within a 4 day rotation schedule.

All clinics, around 12 in this Caracol, have pharmacies with basic medicines. The health houses and medicine cabinets in the communities are supplied by the autonomous clinics. Another constant is preparation and clinical use of natural medicine, syrups, ointments, disinfectants and other natural products are provided.

The Zapatistas use medicines they prepare. Thus, ill people pay a very low price and the same price for all. That the modest autonomous economy occurs outside the state capitalist system does not prevent this from being a formal economy.

Periodically, rumours and government pressure try to introduce brigades in the Zapatistas communities, assuming that children are not vaccinated. In this sense, as in many others, the Zapatista people do not exist officially. It does not matter how careful the Zapatista system is with registers and medical cards, if the Institutions don’t see them, then they
don’t exist.

It also occurs at census level. Hundreds of towns and Zapatistas communities created since 1994, and in some cases whole autonomous municipalities, don’t exist either. Not for official counts, not for academy who enjoy minimizing the Zapatista movement with ignorant volunteering ideology. For them nobody exists besides their registers, indexes and “official” programs.

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