Being a child in 21st century Mexico utterly differs from any other era. The last decade has been a constant whirlpool for Mexico. Political, cultural and economical changes have shaken the country to its core. Primary care physicians, particularly pediatricians, have a burdensome challenge at hand.
Problems like obesity have quickly emerged in all age groups. Obese children, childhood type 2 diabetes and sedentary lifestyles have invaded Mexican homes. Nutrition related customs and habits have shifted due to foreign influence and indifferent health authorities. Obesity rates are soaring high, 1 in every 3 children is overweight or obese and 70% of the adult population struggles with this quandary. Only 3% of Mexican youngsters report intense physical activity. Currently, diabetes is the leading cause of death among Mexicans. It is estimated that by 2030, health practitioners will face a nation with a 15% diabetic population.
Illegal drug use has reached historical rates as a particular phenomenon is happening. Towering amounts of drugs are accumulating in the country due to increasing northern border pressure and scrutiny. Hence, drugs are becoming more available and cheaper every day. Mexico went from being a transit country to another important market. There are a million more drug users today than there used to be back in 2002. Children all over the republic are in paramount need of professional counseling in the fluctuating socio-cultural dynamics.
Gun safety has rapidly become one of the top national issues in the last 10 years. In a country suffocated by crime and violence, thousands of firearms are introduced via the northern border every month. Guns are present in Mexican homes more than ever. This topic is now a priority in the country’s political agenda; nonetheless all children should be addressed directly about this subject.
Primary care is declining in Mexico, as well as the rest of the world. Little pay and uneven distribution of practitioners across the country discourages medical students to consider this path. Prevention and quality well-child care could be the mainstay for saving the coming generations. The solution to these problems is much more complex and goes way beyond the doctor’s office. Nevertheless, Mexican health professionals have the moral responsibility to fight from their own trenches.
Mexican youth are making a stand against new and baleful threats. Pediatricians have a natural appeal towards protecting and looking after the child’s well-being. Close follow-up for children at risk, reiterative prevention talks in every visit and expeditious referral when needed, could be key interventions. More and better trained pediatricians could hold the key for a better informed and healthier country in years to come.
Cesar Lucio is a pediatrics resident in Mexico who blogs at SINESTETOSCOPIO.
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