By Moonyeen King
President of the Board for Tepehua
The Maternal Health Unit at Tepehua Community Center sits on a Tepehua playground waiting to open its doors to the Maternal Health program that will serve every barrio woman Lakeside. The anonymous donors who built it are helping to bring care to women who otherwise cannot afford it. The purpose is to lower the maternal and infant mortality rates in the barrios. When Rotary International, spear-headed by Rotary Ajijic, finish the interior and the equipment for prenatal and postnatal care are installed, Lakeside women will no longer have to suffer the indignity of pregnancies with no medical help.
Prior to this year there were no sonogram machines in clinics for the poor. All scanning, blood tests, cancer and STD diagnoses, etc. had to be done in Guadalajara “Free” hospitals. Even the Jocotepec Hospital that has a birthing unit does not have a sonogram, which is so essential to the health of Mother and Child.
A special program in Guadalajara that had cheaper rates for sonograms on Sunday, will finish at the end of this year as it was only intended to be a two year program. Sonograms will once again cost between 450 to 650 pesos each time. Not only is this cost out of reach for barrio women, so is the bus fare.
The Tepehua clinic will change how Mexico looks at women’s health care. With help from H.O.W (Health Outreach for Women), the Mobile Maternity Unit will work with the Tepehua Clinic to bring pregnant women to the Tepehua Center for all their blood, cancer, pregnancy, sonograms and STD checks with special emphasis on prenatal and postnatal care through scanning.
In 2012, Cath Anderson, a professor of Mexican history appertaining to women wrote:
“One in three women who die during pregnancy cannot access state health services. The Indigenous are less likely to receive family planning or access to contraceptives. Teen age pregnancy is abundant starting at the age of ten.” Anderson also states that 20 to 30% of maternal deaths occur among teenagers. These deaths occur because of lack of prenatal care, postnatal care, and their youth - young bodies not completely grown themselves.
The World Health Organization states that abortion deaths are usually classified as hemorrhages or infections. This happens because most of Mexico does not accept abortion. None of the above figures have changed much today.
The Ministry of Health for Mexico stated “Maternal mortality is a fundamental indicator of social development and health in any country....” also stating “Maternal Mortality has an Indigenous face...”
A maternal health clinic locally in Tepehua will be able to give family planning education and teenage sexuality and pregnancy classes. The value of all this is to prevent unwanted pregnancies or the need for abortion. Sexuality in teens is not solved by “just saying no”, it is solved by educating them to make choices. A woman’s right to choose is a fundamental right, especially for the young who have their lives and ambitions ahead of them. The Indigenous adolescent is three times less likely to have heard of contraceptives than her counterpart.
The Free Tepehua Maternal Health Clinic will be able to teach the young that there is a better way. We can make sure the expectant Mothers get the prenatal care they need, and when the time comes, get them to a safe place to have their babies, and a Tepehua follow up with post natal care, and education for first time Mothers on how to care for the infant.
Most maternal and infant deaths are preventable...unwanted pregnancies are preventable...teenage pregnancies and abortion are preventable...all it takes is education, which gives women the ability to make an educated choice.
We are not forgetting one of the most important components of a healthy society, the young men. The Peer Pressure has to be overcome. It is a waiting game, but we are positive there will be a break through.
Support for this incredible program and the Dentistry part of it will be needed. It will not be a 24/7 operation, just a few hours a week as needed, so volunteer professionals and consultants will not have to give up their leisure time, but will be able to contribute their talents at their own pace. Students in the medical and dental field are welcome, as are retired professionals who will be welcome as consultants even if they do not have a license to practice. Their wisdom is priceless.