Weighing in on Pediatric Medical Care

Lucy well check

Yesterday, Willy and I watched excitedly as Lucy got weighed in for her 6-month checkup. She tipped the scale at nearly 19 pounds, which translated to the 86th percentile for weight! Inwardly, I breathed a sigh of relief. Our baby has a voracious appetite which could have easily sent her sailing beyond the upper limit of the growth chart. After a great visit with her pediatrician, we were given a new children’s book to read, child development resources, and a card for her next appointment. Living in the U.S., I’m thankful for easy access to medical care, a variety of healthy foods for Lucy, immunizations to prevent life-threatening illnesses, and a caring pediatrician who is available to address our concerns.

400 miles south of the El Paso border at Hospital Misión Tarahumara, a young couple was equally anxious to hear the doctor’s report. Their one-year-old twins Everardo and Genoveva were admitted to the hospital this week for severe malnutrition, weighing just 11 and 13 pounds. Due to recent drought leading to crop failures, the only food available to the twins was corn meal. Like many Tarahumara living in the Sierra Madre, this young family has struggled with food scarcity, disease, and freezing temperatures in the winter. The Tarahumara may walk for several days with their sick children to receive medical services. Those who seek assistance in the larger city hospitals are often denied care and discriminated against. Routine pediatric preventative care and childhood immunizations in the Sierra are virtually non-existent.

At the mission hospital, the twins are looking better every day, and so are their chances of survival. Sadly, there are tens of thousands of other Tarahumara children who may not have the same outcome. With infant mortality rates nearing 50%, many Tarahumara parents don’t name their children in the first year of life for fear of losing them.

A large portion of our time over the next 2 years will be dedicated to helping Hospital Misión Tarahumara implement a pediatric malnutrition treatment program. There is much work to be done in the villages to address the complex issue of malnutrition. We look forward to joining the hospital staff on community health outreaches, so that children like Everardo and Genoveva have the resources to grow and thrive.

Willy and I will be traveling to Mexico next month to meet with hospital staff members and better understand areas of need (equipment, funding, etc.) We plan on sharing specifics in an upcoming post. We’d like to thank those of you who have been supporting our family during this journey and are excited to share about what God is doing among the Tarahumara.

Isaiah 58:7 “I want you to share your food with the hungry and bring right into your own homes those who are helpless, poor, and destitute. Clothe those who are cold, and don’t hide from relatives who need your help.”

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