About two years ago, Tzu Chi began its first medical outreach initiative in Mexico. Since this time the Tzu Chi medical team (TIMA) has administered ongoing service missions to impoverished Mexican communities in commitment to a long-term and sustainable relief aid philosophy.
Between April 05 to April 09, the Tzu Chi medical team (TIMA) provided a wide range of compassionate healthcare from both Western and alternative medical practices and dental services in Jojutla and Xochimilco — cities in Mexico where care is limited or difficult to obtain. A total of 1,781 medical services were administered to patients with health issues ranging in severity from minor discomforts and disabilities to partial paralysis.
By meeting the tangible needs of low-income or impoverished communities, Tzu Chi medical services improve the quality of life of aid recipients through both physical and emotional care. Facilitated services included ondotology, acupuncture, general medicine, and even haircuts in affiliation with the Tzu Chi triality of ‘Mind, Body and Spirit’. Local participation within serviced communities has grown in positive response to recent initiatives, with around 100 local volunteer and volunteer doctors to date.
“It really blows my mind how coordinated we are, how much love we give, how much love we get,” Dr. Albert Hsu, TIMA volunteer doctor, explained.
Home visits were provided to those incapable of visiting the clinics due to physical disabilities or travel restrictions. Aid recipients Jose Moises Bustos and David Bustos are one such family. Jose’s son David is paralyzed from the chest down due to a traumatic incident in which he was shot in the chest. With monetary limitations, providing David access to the medical services he needs is a tremendous challenge.
Tzu Chi volunteers have provided at-home care three consecutive times over the course of various Mexico relief missions to ensure that David receives the consistent care he needs, despite the financial restrictions his family faces. “Being able to receive free medical aid is a blessing from God,” Jose explained with much gratitude.
Mexico’s healthcare system is often unable to meet the needs of its population in response to growing challenges created by the prevalence of noncommunicable diseases such as diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and cancer. Additionally the quality of said services, and in some cases access at all, varies considerably.
In rural communities, public health institutions often face difficulties regarding poor and unsterile working conditions and a lack of proper resources. “Unfortunately we don’t have the capacity to attend to such a large population, especially in rural communities,” Salvador Mercado Jaime, Director of Health in the City of Jojutla, explained.
Sufficient healthcare is a basic human right that all should have access to. To ensure that disadvantaged Mexican communities receive equitable healthcare, the Tzu Chi medical team facilitates these routine health clinics. “Whoever comes to the clinic will find help and receive care from spiritual to medical and dental aid, even aid within alternative medicine and above all, top quality on our part,” Salvador said.
New and returning volunteer doctors learn from one another through the dissemination of shared knowledge to ensure efficient care that suits the needs of local residents. What results is a collaborative approach of internationally integrative medical practices that reaffirm patient culture and lifestyle to ensure optimal health and healing.
This integrative Eastern/Western healthcare utilizes techniques such as acupuncture and cupping, a Chinese technique with historical roots in traditional Mexican medicine. Suction cups are combined with a source of heat to create indentations on the body. The use of pressure and suction is a functional and easily produced practice that assists with tense muscles, poor blood circulation and high blood pressure, in addition to providing a sense of relief and emotional well-being.
Dr. Christoforo Ordones, Acupuncturist/Homeopath and Tzu Chi volunteer, elaborated on the usefulness of these integrative techniques. “[Cupping] is very safe and very effective for many pathologies,” she said. “We are helping for the benefit of the community and people with scarce resources.”
After the 2019 TIMA Global Forum in L.A. came to a close, many conference attendees traveled to Mexico to provide on-site assistance to the mission. This elicited further diversity in medical techniques thanks to the innovative TIMA world healthcare education.
Additionally, local and student volunteers from around the region visited clinics to support the provision of medical services and contributed to the multifaceted approach. “We came here to help the people and provide translation between doctors and patients,” Paola Godina, a local student volunteer, explained. “I love what the people of this Foundation do to help others in need with low income, and I love being a part of this.”
Guadalupe Sanchez de la Go, aid recipient and Xochimilco resident, expressed the enormous impact that Tzu Chi healthcare services have had on her life and well-being. “I am thankful for [Tzu Chi’s] kindness; they have one big heart — love for all humanity,” she said. “I am infinitely thankful.”
While the health of residents such as Guadalupe’s have been improved, our ongoing mission needs your support to ascertain sustainability. Help us ensure that disadvantaged individuals know that they are not alone, and that there are people around the world who care about their well-being.