Project ProSalud – Building Healthy Communities

Context

Urban poor workers who live in Chimalhuacan and San Vicente Chicoloapan are particularly dependent on good health. If a household’s principal wage earner can’t work, the loss of income along with the subsequent medical costs is enough to throw lower-income families into even deeper poverty for extended periods.  Yet, those who can least afford ill health live in communities that are a recipe for sanitary and health disaster, with poor housing conditions, chronic air pollution, environmental degradation and lack of access to basic urban services, such as paved roads. Even though the federal government provides health services, the distribution of those services is grossly unequal. The major health care complexes were built in the heart of Mexico City, and the transportation costs and two hour one way travel time keep Chimalhuacan and San Vicente Chicoloapan residents from accessing them. Many must use costly private health services, which send them into long-term debt.

Not surprisingly, the statistics of the slum dwellers are worse than those of wealthier urban residents, and sometimes even worse than for those living in poor rural areas. The lack of access to medical care increases the probability of death due to accidents and epidemic diseases such as HIV / AIDS and hepatitis. Health and sickness of people, families and communities, and the general population, therefore, is now a days a major concern and a challenge for the slum dwellers.

Therefore, although the health of people has a deep biological root, the health-disease processes do not occur in a vacuum, but occur in a social, economic, political, cultural and environmental matrix. In that sense, health acquires a multi-causal, multifactorial and multidimensional share; it is the meeting point where the biological and social, emotional and psycho-spiritual, the individual and the community, public and private, knowledge and action converge. Health depends on a multi-causal network of biological and social factors (the state of the environment, forms of social organization, family health, economic structure, level of democracy, level of urbanization, dwelling conditions, nutrition, culture, etc.)

Therefore, in Transformación Urbana Internacional we define community health in a holistic way and we consider that any effort to keep a community health standard, must address the actions to go beyond the simple application of medical technologies from a technical and healing focus. They must share responsibility with the community to use their internal resources to transform qualitative and quantitative factors that dynamize the health-disease process, in addition to implementing participatory, organization, mobilization and social empowerment processes to influence these factors and structures that for years have kept the population immerse in poverty and disease. In fact, worldwide community health programs in slums have demonstrated a dramatic impact takling diseases that could be easily prevented.

ProSalud, Project Description

Transformación Urbana Internacional has designed the project ProSalud to promote a reproducible holistic community health model that seeks to reduce the preventable diseases, diminish the health costs, to link the enrolled families with other governmental or private health services and to train volunteer community health promoter to encourage the creation of social capital. That is why the focus of ProSalud is centered in:

  1. Conducting research and holistic health brigades that allow to diagnose and provide information as measurable indicators about the state of the communities’ health.
  2. Promotion of balanced nutrition through the selective distribution of food supplements and accompaniment to families and children with malnutrition and obesity.
  3. Training of health promoters in servant leadership, family and community health, nutrition and public health systems to give constant follow up to families, focused on prevention of diseases and the promotion of self-care practices on the physical, emotional, psycho-spiritual, sexual-reproductive, family and community health that  together help to reduce health care costs
  4. Monthly home visits with the enrolled families, to follow up with their cases.
  5. Linking the families and individuals to the governmental or private health programs.
  6. Citizen participation through the organization of family clubs of  ProSalud to design, manage and implement small community projects focused on the subject of health and the environment.
  7. Creation and consolidation of a health network that articulates the foundations of a citizen movement focused on  prevention campaigns and advocacy processes in the Government Health Programs.
  8. Reproduction: ProSalud finally assists community-based faith communities, organizations and schools to adopt its model of community health, accompanying them and training them to start their own family clubs, which will exponentially increase our impact.

Achievements

In November 2009 we started the project ProSalud. Since then we have impacted more than 800 people through our medical campaigns, enrolling 230 families in 12 family clubs where they are trained in subjects related with community health and they receive a regular follow up from one of the 23 community health promoters who follow a formation and mentoring process. Besides, ProSalud has incorporated a total of 800 kids in their nutrition project.

 

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