Fruits, corn and coffee are the usual currency to buy medicines at the San Carlos Hospital in Altamirano, municipality of the southern Mexican state of Chiapas, where the old tradition of bartering guarantees patients access to medical treatment.
"The medical service in San Carlos is free but the medications are not, some patients pay with symbolic things like oranges, coffee and corn that they collect from the harvest" explains Sr. Adela Orea Duarte, member of the Congregation Daughters of Charity of San Vicente de Paul, general practitioner and director of the hospital.
Osvaldo Hernández Aguilar, a diabetic patient who must walk more than 6 hours to reach San Carlos, tells Efe that for two years he has not been able to work his lands because of his illness and that his only financial support is provided by one of his children but Still not enough.
"Here they are very good; as we don't bring money, we can't pay for everything we need. Here they give me time to pay little by little, so we come, I still owe it here because I can't pay it yet; I'm traveling but I'm thinking of paying little little by little, here if that's why we come here, "he says.
Ana Luna Moreno says she took her mother, who is hypertensive and has heart problems to have studies done. "Today I came to pay my debts (debt) with food for lack of money, I always pay little by little, here they always give us support," he says.
To date, the hospital operates only with its own resources and donations that are quickly exhausted in the face of the demand for services, more than 70 patients are treated daily and in medical campaign season the assistance is more than 150 patients.
"This hospital was founded by Dominican sisters from South Dakota, North Americans, arrived in Chiapas in 1969, worked throughout the jungle area and realized that health was very poor," he said.
The nuns, explains "they thought it was necessary to set up a small dispensary and decided to do it here in Altamirano because it was a strategic point for the entrance to the Cañadas of the Ocosingo jungle."
But they were exceeded by the needs of the communities in health and decided to transfer the project to Bishop Samuel Ruiz, then head of the diocese of San Cristobal de las Casas, in the southern state of Chiapas.
Ruiz asked the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul to take over the hospital. With a doctor, two nurses and a social worker, the nuns arrived in Altamirano by plane, the only way to do it because at that time they could not be reached by land.
Sr. Adela recalls that there was an American company, "Alas de Socorro", with three small planes in San Cristóbal de Las Casas that communicated with them by radio to know how the time was to fly and if it was fine, then the seriously ill could Be transferred for your medical care.
At that time, in addition to pregnancies and births, the most common diseases were parasitosis, tuberculosis and malnutrition, so the project "Hope for the Jungle" was implemented in 80 communities with promoters trained at the San Carlos hospital.
Since its inception, the hospital has been subject to social conflicts in the region, such as the one that caused the rise of the rebel Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) that halted projects and caused organizations such as "Wings of Relief" to disappear, said Sor Adela
"The movement with the promoters then also stopped at that time, then restarted only in the Altamirano region, because it was no longer possible and the hospital at that time only stayed with the team of Tzeltal auxiliaries that still continues and that today they are nurses, "he explains.
He points out that these nurses were taught Spanish, basic education and "currently all of them are already nurses, they were the essential basic assistants with whom they could provide the health care that could be given at that time," he acknowledges.
Currently, the hospital has improved its infrastructure and has 60 beds, a staff of 115 health professionals and a donor support network, however demand continues to grow and resources are insufficient every day.
He points out that now the conditions detected in the offices are chronic diseases, such as cancer and diabetes, hypertension, tuberculosis, malnutrition and psychiatric problems.
"We have registered different types of cancer, and at the end of the year we will have the percentage but if the neoplasms that are more frequent are attracted to us and we have a propionic acidemia that is a rare disease," says Efe, María Isabel Casas Marroquín, coordinator hospital doctor.
. (tagsToTranslate) Hospital (t) mexican (t) barter (t) sick medicines (t)