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The Zapatista Hospital.

Zinco & Guido | 31.12.2004 18:26 | Globalisation | Social Struggles | Zapatista | World

One of the greatest achievements at the Zapatista Caracol of Oventic is the hospital which provides healthcare and medication for thousands of people in nine local communities. We spoke to the hospital administrator; a self educated man elected to take charge of health provision in his community some 12 years ago.

Clinica La Guadalupana Oventic
Clinica La Guadalupana Oventic

The hospital adminit=strator
The hospital adminit=strator

The dispensary, supplying medication to those who cant afford it.
The dispensary, supplying medication to those who cant afford it.

Patients can be looked after overnight if necessary.
Patients can be looked after overnight if necessary.

The fact that this facility has no government funding is almost unbelievable. The hospital has a dispensary providing drugs to people who would otherwise not be able to afford it. It has a theatre capable of carrying out basic operations. It has a working laboratory where all kinds of diseases and conditions can be diagnosed saving precious time and lives. It also has wards where patients can be kept and monitored overnight. Although heavily dependent on outside donations for drugs and equipment the hospital is largely the result of years of hard collective work by the administrator and his team.

As always it’s preferable for those involved to talk about the project in they own words.

Below is a selection of quotes from the administrator and also from the hospital info pack:

“The idea to build this clinic was born in the years 1987 –1988, the reason being that in this region there are not clinics or hospitals providing medical care for the thousands of people that inhabit the area, mainly indigenous people that have never known of proper medical care, children, adults and elders die of curable diseases.”

“We wanted to build a clinic where patients and their relatives are treated with respect, unlike government hospitals where the indigenous are often discriminated and treated with contempt.”

“We wanted a clinic where the people can plan their health care; the aim is to prevent the diseases that affect their communities. We wanted a clinic where we can prepare and qualify health workers that will help not only this clinic but also the people in their communities, preventing many deaths.”

“The clinic has been working now for about 12 years, receiving 20-25 patients a day and it has about 25 people working fulltime. Most common illnesses being treated are respiratory and gastrointestinal diseases, parasites, skin complaints, rheumatism, arthritis, and tuberculosis. There is now a laboratory where we can diagnose this type of infection and it’s helping prevent the problem of epidemics suffered other times in some communities.”

“It was possible to build this clinic due to a collective conscience, the organisation of the people, the support from friends in foreign countries and the voluntary labour of thousands of people from communities supporting the EZLN.”

“Nowadays due to the shortage of voluntary doctors, health workers and economic resources that could buy drugs and medical equipment, the service we provide is humble, still we attend everyone without making distinctions and we do everything in our hands to save people’s lives, when there’s nothing we can do for them here, we try to move them to other services, either to sympathetic doctors or to government hospitals in extreme cases.”

“In many occasions patients are hospitalise in this clinic although we can not offer space to their relatives and we don’t have enough food to provide for their proper recovery, but we try to share what we have.”

“The clinic was built in Oventic due to its central location, it is within reach of a great number of communities, but still not accessible to many more so we are now trying to build micro clinics with qualified health workers in different municipalities. Its name comes from our indigenous people devotion to the Guadalupe Virgin, protector of the poor”

“There are many urgencies and needs in this clinic where work and services are provided in voluntary and free basis. Please help us in any way you can so we can continue saving the lives of the patients that arrive here daily.”

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Zinco & Guido