During a morning press conference on November 1, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador assured that, along with foreign and local doctors, midwives and traditional healers will also be integrated into Mexico’s public health system. This is part of the plan announced in September of this year, when the intention to promote, promote and protect this knowledge as cultural heritage was announced.
As explained by the Mexican Institute for Social Security (IMSS), the constitution recognizes the cultural right of indigenous peoples to practice traditional medicine, when it is carried out under appropriate conditions. As for traditional midwifery, the Undersecretary for Prevention and Health Promotion, Hugo López-Gatell, stated in September that this activity, in the context of the Plan to Strengthen and Federalize Health, does not contradict any rule or law. The aforementioned model contemplates the creation of medical care through community actions, followed by the organized, active and co-responsible participation of communities, individuals and families, Zoé Robledo, general director of IMSS, described in detail.
After almost two months of work, at the conference on November 1, it was examined how this integration into the IMSS Welfare program is progressing, especially in terms of rewards. Robledo mentioned that more than a thousand midwives receive a support of fifteen hundred pesos, although they are volunteers and not hired, and assured that there are plans to increase this amount. He said, it is a model similar to that of voluntary rural workers, of whom there are more than 15 thousand in the country and they receive five hundred pesos for transfers. When asked for his opinion on the lack of a contract for midwives, President López Obrador commented: “they will be incorporated, but it is a process, we are starting.”
Delving into this voluntary nature, the federal executive mentioned tequio, that is unpaid collective work within native communities, carried out for the benefit of the community itself. As part of his explanation regarding these usages and customs, he detailed: “There is volunteer work in the cities, deep in Mexico.” In addition, he added, “Now that we do the artisan trails, they are supported by the budget, but they don’t stop giving tequio to contribute to their community, not everything is paid for.” However, with regard to the insistence on the issue of whether and how much will be fair payment when hiring midwives and traditional doctors, he admitted that this aspect has not yet been defined.
In the current six-year mandate, the creation of the IMSS social protection program was promoted in order to provide health care to the population that is not socially insured. Traditional midwives have joined this program and from there care is also provided in the mother tongue with the support of 754 traditional healers. To expand health coverage in rural and highly marginalized areas, the federal government has also hired Cuban doctors who they hope will eventually fill 500 vacant positions.
By integrating midwives and traditional healers, the federal government seeks to protect this knowledge and prevent its privatization, through a regulatory framework with scientific criteria. Although traditional midwives currently work in the IMSS Bienestar program according to a voluntary model, López Obrador assures that they will be involved gradually.
With information from NotiPress