Category Archives: Health

Tiene azucar? — Diabetes in Mexico

Tiene azucar? (Do you have sugar?) is the local way to ask if you have diabetes. It’s not uncommon to see people who have had their feet or legs cut off because of complications with diabetes. The lady who talked to herself on the way to La Yacata had untreated diabetes. She died of a diabetic coma a few years ago at the age of 45. When my son was in elementary, parents were required to attend a workshop on how to diagnose diabetes in our children. We were to look for a purplish ring around their necks that looks like mugre (dirt) but that doesn’t wash off. 

According to the World Health Organization, diabetes is the number one cause of death with nearly 80,000 deaths per year. Mexicans with diabetes die on average younger, at 57 years, compared to the overall age of 69. Early death is not the only side effect. Diabetes can cause strokes, kidney failure, foot ulcers, nerve damage, and blindness.  By 2050, health care practitioners estimate that half of the population of Mexico will have diabetes.

One factor in developing Type 2 diabetes is lifestyle choices. Over the past 40 years, Mexicans have gotten fat. Soda consumption is out of control with an average of more than 176 liters per person per year. It’s hard to find a meal not accompanied by a coke, “la chispa de la vida.” Even breakfast might be served as a bolillo de trigo (wheat bun) and coke. In most areas, a can of soda is cheaper than a bottle of water. High alcohol consumption is another factor in the high sugar diet so popular these days, sugar tax be damned.

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You are what you eat!

The diet has changed as well. Moving from a predominantly plant-based diet based around corn, the average Mexican now consumes more than double the amount of meat consumed in 1960. Carnitas (fried pork) stands can be found on nearly every corner.

In addition to poor diet, Mexicans have become less active overall. Children don’t run and frolic outdoors, but instead huddle in corners playing hour after hour on their cell phones, tablets, and Xboxes leading to a rise in childhood obesity and early onset of Type 2 diabetes.

Of course, it’s not all in the diet. Mexicans also have a genetic predisposition towards developing Type 2 diabetes which compounds the problem.

And the prevalence of this disease places a burden on the healthcare system currently in place. Estimates average more than $700 USD per year per person out of pocket expenses for diabetes maintenance (insulin injections, test strips, pills) and that doesn’t include the cost of dialysis and kidney transplants that are services also not covered under Seguro Popular. Since minimum wage is still under $5.00 USD per day, this is a huge expense for many families

More education about the prevention and management of diabetes is needed. The general idea I hear is that we all die from something, we might as well die fat and happy. And you can bet, their death will be celebrated in grand style, carnitas (fried pork) and coke all around at the velorio and novena perpetuating the cycle.

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Filed under Cultural Challenges, Death and all its trappings, Health, Parenting Challenges and Cultural Norms

On Being an Herbal Academy Affiliate

Herbal Academy Courses

I’ve tried several affiliate programs and most have not been worth the effort. However, the Herbal Academy Affiliate program has been one that I would recommend if your niche contains herb lovers, homesteaders or tree huggers.

Commission payments are sent out the first full week of every month with an outstanding balance of $50 or more by Paypal. I make a 15% commission on every referral. I get 35% off Herbal Academy’s Online Programs and Herbalist Packages and sometimes I even get to take a course for FREE in exchange for a blog post, There are banners and images galore to make promoting easy. And finally, the courses are of the highest quality which makes it easy for me to rave about.

You can read the Affiliate Terms and Agreements here.

I’ve taken several of Herbal Academy’s courses myself.

Learn how to wildcraft and identify plants confidently in the Botany & Wildcrafting Course!My review of the Botany and Wildcrafting Course is here.Enroll in the Herbal Self-Care for Stress Management Course My review of the Herbal Self-care for Stress Management Course is here.The Craft of Herbal Fermentation Course by Herbal Academy My review of the Herbal Fermentation is here.

The Herbarium Membership for Herbalists

Herbal Academy also sponsors the membership only herbal online library The Herbarium. There you can find articles, downloads, video, podcasts, monographs, and an herbal bookshelf designed to add to your herbal knowledge. They have also begun a new series of intensive workshops concentrating on herbal treatment for specific conditions. The first course is called Herbs for ADHD, Cognition, and Focus.
Herbs for ADHD Intensive enrolling thru October, 21st

But that’s not all! Herbal Academy also has its own store choked full of fun and useful herbal products. My personal favorites are the Materia Medica Journal and the Herbal Starter Kit.A complete Herbal Starter Kit by Herbal Academy

Goods Shop by Herbal Academy – botanically inspired products

So really, what’s not to love about being an Herbal Academy Affiliate?

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Medical Tourism in Mexico

Medical Tourism is big business these days in Mexico. In fact, the recently formed department ProMexico, the Medical Tourism Advisory Council, estimated that in 2013, medical tourism earned Mexico $2,847 million dollars, which was the equivalent of all tequila and beer exports combined for that year. In 2016, income generated from medical tourism reached $4.7 billion dollars.

Medical treatment in Mexico is often 36% and 89% cheaper than the same procedures done in the United States, making U.S. citizens Mexico’s number 1 client list.

The most common reasons people come to Mexico is to have bariatric surgery, stem cell, cancer, and fertility treatments and dental work. Bariatric surgery is about 70% cheaper than the U.S. and most dental work about 60% less costly. Rhinoplasty is about 56% cheaper and heart valve replacement is nearly 89% less expensive than the U.S. In 2012, Mexico treated more than a million foreigners ranking it number 2 worldwide providing such services.

Tijuana, Mexicali, Cancun, Guadalajara, Mexico City and Puerto Vallarta are among the top medical tourism destinations in Mexico.

There is a cost to Mexican citizens, however. Although most are covered under one of the three universal health care programs (Seguro Popular, IMSS and ISSTE) 66% of the hospitals are privately owned, ensuring that public hospitals that accept the national health care coverage are overcrowded, understaffed, and often lacking medications which necessitate out-of-pocket expenses. Although these are affordable to U.S. citizens paying with U.S. dollars, prices in the private sector have increased steadily to capitalize on medical tourism income, making it more difficult for the average Mexican to pay for services provided by private hospitals.

According to a 2015 report, 65% of those traveling to receive treatment do not have medical insurance. While the lower cost of the procedures allow for affordability even without insurance, there are some occasions when it would be in a patient’s best interest to have some sort of coverage. Mexico scores 9th out of 9 nations for destination environment factors due to public perception about pockets of extreme violence and civil unrest. Of course, it’s not all a matter of perception. There are areas that should be visited with extreme caution so best to do your homework before availing yourself of the medical tourism opportunities.

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How to find a Midwife in Mexico

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In Mexico, there are three types of midwives, depending on their educational background. There are about 15,000 traditional midwives, who are empirical in their knowledge. Their knowledge varies from midwife to midwife. They have knowledge of the herbs and cultural birth customs. Many have been trained by the government, and use medical techniques that are outdated. There are nurse midwives who have a more updated medical knowledge, however, have trained in a deficient system. Many do not have a lot of practice for home births. Then there are technical midwives who have trained in the midwifery model of care. They are respectful of traditional practices and updated in medical techniques. Many are still young and just graduating. Also, there are foreign midwives living in Mexico and fighting for homebirth and humanized births.

To choose a midwife it would be really wise to ask her a lot of detailed questions, on how long she has been working, where she trained, who her network of health providers are. In case of emergency what would happen. How many clients she has approximately a month

Midwives have supported women through centuries in many states. Only 2 presidents ago, the government launched a campaign to institutionalize all births and many midwives were affected by this marginalization. However, today the government is realizing that this has not reduced maternal mortality significantly or does it satisfy the women. There is a lot of obstetric violence in the hospitals and the government is reopening a dialogue on how to reinstate their work.

For more information contact Sabrina Speich at Movimiento Osa Mayor or Osa Mayor Mexico.

 

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