Mexican non-profits have a hard time surviving. One can say many non-profits, no matter the country, find it challenging to be sustainable.
In the state of Jalisco, there are over 800 registered A.C.’s, Asociaciónes Civiles, or non-profits. In all of Mexico, there are about 4,000 registered non-profits. That’s a lot of competition in a land where philanthropy, though existent, is not part of the culture.
Juntos Contra el Dolor of Guadalajara is a remarkable entity. It is a Mexican model for palliative care and hospice. Its resourceful, enthusiastic founder and palliative care educator Dra Susana Lua Nava is an ecumenical nun. Her team serves anyone of any belief system or economic background. All are dedicated to offering holistic pain relief for life-limiting conditions or at end-of-life.
In 2014 Dra Susana Lua Nava and Juntos Contra el Dolor received the prestigious state of Jalisco IJAS award for outstanding contributions by a non-profit.
Juntos Contra el Dolor’s 24/7 humanitarian effort includes not only medical attention at its 8-bed hospital but outreach and education to 65 or more patients and their families at home. For a Mexican non-profit dependent on donations, this is an achievement. Faith in the need, faith in all possibilities, and a lot of love are components of the Juntos ability to continue despite obstacles.
Every member of the team is a volunteer except the nurses. The team consists of palliative care doctors, psychologists, social workers, chaplains, and trained volunteers.
Juntos Contra el Dolor held its annual fundraiser, a Fiesta Mexicana gala, on Saturday, September 24.
Juntos Contra el Dolor provides weekly consultations in a donated space in San Augustin, a suburb to the west of Guadalajara. By January 2017 there will be consultations for those suffering from pain at Lake Chapala, an hour from Guadalajara. The offices will be in the Church of San Juan Batista in San Juan Cosala.
As mentioned, the non-profit stays afloat by donations – usually in-kind support such as diapers, linen, paper supplies, fresh organic food, and new medicines.At the following link you can read what is needed and where one can make donations. http://juntoscontraeldolor.com/Donaciones/don.html
Dr. Lua received three years of specialized palliative care training in the Canary Islands with Dr. Marcos Gomez Sancho, considered the leading palliative care physician and professor of the Latin world. Dr. Lua is a thought leader for Mexico, and author of El Enfermo: Terreno Sagrado (The Ill: Sacred Terrain).
Dra Susana Lua Nava, a palliative care physician based in Guadalajara, Mexico, spoke to over 200 North Americans and locals at Open Circle on the Lake Chapala Society grounds in Ajijic, Mexico about pain relief for chronic conditions and end-of-life.
Her passionate presentation about the unmet needs in Jalisco state and throughout the country triggered many questions from the audience, plus more interest in bringing such services to the lake. Lake Chapala is about an hour’s drive from Mexico’s second largest city Guadalajara. An estimated 20,000 North Americans reside there during high season.
It is a goal of Dra Lua’s non-profit Juntos Contra el Dolor, A.C., (United Against Pain), http://www.juntoscontraeldolor.com, to educate communities throughout Mexico about what palliative care is, and show how to offer comfort care to those with life-limiting diseases. Ideally, there would be models for this care in each state. Currently, palliative care is primarily found in three large cities at regional hospitals – Guadalajara, Mexico City, and Monterrey.
In 2009 the Ministry of Public Health of Mexico established guidelines for palliative care entitling all residents of the nation to relief from pain. The challenge has been that most people do not know exactly what palliative care is, nor where to find it. Palliative medicine is often confused with pain clinics which may offer medications but do not necessarily include a holistic support team for the patient and family members during such trying times.
As of yet, there is no dedicated palliative care/hospice team – physicians, nurses, psychologists, social workers, clergy, and volunteers working together at Lake Chapala. There have been previous efforts to establish a hospice. (The main cities at the lake are Ajijic, Chapala, San Juan Cosala, and Jocotopec. It takes around 40 minutes to drive from Chapala on the east end to Jocotopec on the western end).
There are a number of highly talented retired palliative care and hospice administrators, physicians, nurses, clergy, social workers, and others from Canada, the U.S., South Africa, and other countries at the lake. Several groups have formed to discuss how to establish a service that can serve all populations and will endure.
DVDs of the chat by Dra Lua can be ordered at http://www.opencircle-ajijic.org
I performed a Cliff Notes version of Dr. Lua’s talk as there was much to cover in a short amount of time.
A week after the presentation to North Americans, Dr. Lua gave a public health talk on the same subject to local Mexicans at the Ajijic Cultural Center.