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MSF in Mexico, 2002
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Work with indigenous people extended to Guerrero
Immersed in a low-intensity war, as in the state of Chiapas, or repressed (in the state of Guerrero), indigenous communities often lack access to basic health care. They are stigmatized by society. MSF offers medical care to indigenous people in both these areas and tackles neglected but treatable diseases, such as trachoma, which inflict a heavy economic and social toll.
In Chiapas, MSF provides basic health care in more than 25 indigenous communities, investigates and responds to acute health needs in the region, and raises awareness about the plight of indigenous people. A trachoma control campaign includes active case finding, corrective surgery, training Ministry of Health staff, and inter-institutional coordination and advocacy. Part of MSF's role is to provide basic health services in a way indigenous communities feel secure using, until minimal confidence in the Ministry of Health can be restored. MSF has plans to operate in the region at least until the armed conflict between the Zapatista National Liberation Army, paramilitary groups, and the Mexican government is settled.
In April 2002, a new project was opened in the isolated region of La Montaña in Guerrero, to reduce morbidity and mortality rates among the area's indigenous people, particularly women of childbearing age and children under five. MSF work includes consultations, vaccinations, epidemiological surveillance, training traditional birth attendants, and providing health education.
MSF first worked in Mexico in 1994 and has had a continuous presence since 1997.