Mexico: Programs reach areas of isolation and neglect

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In March 2000, MSF was granted access to the isolated state of Chiapas, where neglect and poverty have fomented a rebellion led by the area's indigenous people that has endured since 1994. The initial primary health care project in the region of Los Altos has now been extended to the regions of Zona Norte, Las CaÃ?±adas, and La Selva - all isolated, mountainous areas and part of the so-called "conflict area." Much of MSF's work takes place in self-declared autonomous communities, where rebels have not let the Ministry of Health operate for more than seven years. Mobile medical teams deliver basic care and train community health workers and traditional birth attendants. In Los Altos, MSF also performs eye surgery on patients with trachoma, a blinding disease endemic in the area. A two-year pilot program in Mixteca, in the southern state of Oaxaca, was handed over to the Mexican Ministry of Health at the end of 2000. This program of medical aid and training served some 17,000 indigenous people scattered over 60 communities. A recent exploratory mission in the southeastern part of the state of Guerrero is likely to result in a program focused on health care for mothers and children. MSF first worked in Mexico in 1994 and has had a continuous presence since 1997. International staff: 6 National staff: 39