It’s been just over a week since we’ve been here and I’ve learned more about the Mexican culture and the history of San Pancho than I thought I would in such a short time. While in school we learned about the social determinants of health and in Victoria you can see the different levels of wealth and education, but, here in San Pancho it appears that the locals are all at the same level. The lack of oral health education and the communities attitude towards oral health is clearly evident after our oral screenings because of the amount of decay found. It would be interesting to see if it is the same in other small towns in Mexico. However, we were told that the community has come a long way since our program has been coming here.
After our hospital orientation, talking to the sub-director, and talking to the dentist, the impact of low socioeconomic status as a barrier is also evident. People will choose not to miss a day's work for a dental issue or even a medical issue, because this could jeopardize their ability of putting food on the table. Dr. Christian, the dentist in the hospital, was telling us that when people do come in with pain related to dental issues it’s usually too late for him to treat and then he has to send them to the next town, which is about a 2.5 hour drive, to get the care that they need. With that comes it's own challenges.
The hospital itself seem to have a progressive health care approach (e.g. early child care programs, psychological therapy for those who seek it, birth control programs, etc.) but the locals don’t seem to take advantage of it. Traditional values and use of family remedies passed down from generations take precedent over seeking medical attention.
I am learning that education and prevention of oral disease should be our focus. Help them help themselves, and in the years to come keep watching the decrease in the rate of decay... hopefully.