In mid-March, Partners In Health’s newest site, Compañeros En Salud Mexico, welcomed crowds to a health screening fair this past week in the mountain town of Soledad. Men and women from the region were about to receive physical exams and answer questionnaires, which will help clinicians screen them for signs of hypertension, diabetes, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, and epilepsy.
The fair is one element of a strategy of “active case finding”. As CES Director Dr. Hugo Flores explained, “What these priority conditions all have in common is that they often go undiagnosed for months or years, slowly damaging health. But if caught early, they can be successfully treated. Through the health screening fair- and later through home visits and other community efforts – we aim to find and address these often hidden conditions.”
CES also utilized the event to educate community members about the chronic diseases of diabetes and hypertension. Through the fair and follow-up visits, CES staff saw 120 people, screened 65 for diabetes, and diagnosed 10 with the disease and 15 with glucose intolerance. The ones that were diagnosed started treatment right away and were received advise on lifestyle changes they could make.
“The interactive educational games were very well received,” said CES Director of Operations, Dr. Jafet Arrieta. “Not only were the activities fun, but they helped people understand complex health concepts.” For example, social service year physician Alejandra Almeida used transparent tubing and colored water to help illustrate how high blood pressure can cause damage over time.
CES helps improve Mexican government clinics in the sierra of Chiapas by providing staff and supporting operations. The fair’s success highlighted this collaboration. Officials of the regional health jurisdiction as well as the local clinic nurses worked together with CES physicians to provide supplies and staffing for the fair. At the community level, teachers and health committee leaders also mobilized to help publicize the event.
The organization currently supports two clinics, with plans to expand to up to seven in August 2012. This initial fair will serve as a template for community events as the organization grows.