By: Dr. Laura Monti, Borderlands Restoration Senior Fellow, Research Associate, University of Arizona Mel & Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health and The Southwest Center
When in June of 2021 the third wave of COVID hit the remote Comcáac villages of Punta Chueca and Desemboque, the Salud Comcáac team who formed at the onset of COVID-19 to assist these communities, including BRN Senior Fellow Laura Monti, was prepared. The Comcáac are indigenous people that occupy their autonomous territory in the coastal desert of the State of Sonora, Mexico.
Local Seri health promoters who received training during the initial response, Omar Casanova and Isabela Morales, mobilized quickly along with expert herbalists, and Secretary of Health physician Dr. Diego Franco to address the health needs of the villages. Our generous partners including the Amazon Conservation Team responded immediately providing additional funds needed to cope with this surge. For this outstanding work, the Salud Comcáac team was honored by Mexico’s National Secretary of Health.
The two Rural Health Centers are now better equipped and operating in Desemboque and Punta Chueca with running water and electricity, combining modern medicine and traditional medicine. Internet and cell phones are supporting telemedicine and other vital communications. Additional space was refurbished with equipment and additional beds, thanks to the Fundación Tichi Muñoz and FESAC, Nogales. Early intervention with 24 hour care, oxygen concentrators and herbal treatments has so far avoided Covid related deaths and reduced hospitalizations. In addition to delivering integrative care to over 100 COVID patients, the team also served 300 Comcáac community members for issues unrelated to COVID in 2021.
Between COVID surges, seven members of the Salud Comcáac team earned a diploma in health promotion from El Colegio de Sonora facilitated by Dr. Catalina Denman and other public health expert mentors. These students are the first indigenous students to complete this innovative and rigorous applied course thanks to financial support from the University of Arizona Southwest Center and donors.
Salud Comcáac is rooted in traditional knowledge and is carried out at the invitation of the Comcáac community governing authorities and in collaboration with the Sonoran Secretary of Health.
Oceans of gratitude to all that supported this work and to those that worked tirelessly to provide health care in these communities!
Check out the next blog in this three part blog update about work happening with the Comcáac Indigenous communities!
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