Chiapas, Mexico

History of DGH In the Community


DGH was invited to visit by Hospital San Carlos and a Mexican physician who was planning a primary health system in the autonomous municipality near Altamirano. Two DGH board members visited the hospital and spoke to the sisters and representatives of the communities.


The first DGH volunteer spent the year in Altamirano. Because of renewed tensions between the autonomous Zapatista communities and the government, it was not possible for foreigners to travel to the communities, so the work was confined to the hospital.


Juan Manuel Canales decided to join DGH as the in-country coordinator of the work and began to work with several Zapatista autonomous communities.


DGH has continued to send physician, nurse and public health volunteers to HSC and to work in the communities.


Current DGH Projects

We work with 6 of the Zapatista autonomous municipalities. The work consists of teaching health promoters and conducting public health work. The in-country coordinator, Dr. Canales, visits the communites frequently to assist the promoters in attention to minor illnesses in the community as well as for planning of preventive activities such as vaccination campaigns.  The Zapatista autonomous municipalities have a very strong governing structure built around the Juntas de Buen Gobierno (Good Government Councils). Dr. Canales meets with authorities at both the community level and the governing body for the whole zone to plan health work. 


Opportunities to Make a Difference

  • Volunteers can almost always be useful in the hospital, especially internists or family physicians; pediatricians and emergency medicine physicians are also welcome. Fourth year medical students are accepted if a fully trained physician is available locally to precept.
  • Volunteers with experience in high school-level education as well as in agriculture, community health, and nutrition are needed.
  • There are also possibilities for volunteers with interest (and better if with previous experience) in working in the communities. These volunteers need to be able to commit to at least 3 months.
  • Material needs include a vehicle for Juan Manuel to conduct health promoter trainings in various remote communities.