In the state of Oaxaca, especially in the remote mountain villages, healthcare services are scarce and under sourced. The people of the mountains complained about long distances, sporadic coverage, medical expenses and lack of sustained follow-up in government programs. In 2007, VFF and Proyectos worked with mountain communities through two “Mountain Health Summits” to review medical concerns, the availability and quality of healthcare services and to test a pilot program aimed at filling the gaps that were identified.
In the spring of 2008 with permission from the government, a local doctor joined the team to lead the effort at making improvements in the availability and quality of healthcare for the people of the mountains. Each week she traveled to different villages and rotated a schedule that brought her back every 6-8 weeks.
In order to focus on prevention and improvement of overall health of patients her work centered on acute and chronic medical problems including nutrition and hygiene. Major emergencies or delivery of babies were not included because of lack of scheduling predictability, but she did provide prenatal care. The doctor began a pilot project for basic health insurance and developed a model for providing some of the most common medicines at low cost with subsidized rates tied to Proyectos agricultural revenue.
The program was implemented for almost two years and served many patients across the communities. We discovered that there were government programs that treated some of the same medical issues and this eventually undercut the long-term sustainability of the market by distorting the market supply and demand. We agreed to revisit the medical needs of the communities once economic programs are more developed.