MEXICO: Construction underway for the new Latin American Center for the Treatment of Spinal Cord Injuries funded by USAID
Project will be Mexico’s first comprehensive treatment and rehabilitation center for patients paralyzed by spinal cord injuries.
NEW ROCHELLE, NY (Aug. 25, 2021) Top of Form People living with spinal cord injuries will have a new treatment center thanks to funding Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco, received from the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) American Schools and Hospitals Abroad (ASHA) program for the “Raising Standards of Care for Spinal Cord Injury Patients” project. The project will construct and equip Mexico’s first comprehensive treatment and rehabilitation center to assist patients who have been paralyzed by spinal cord injuries, with a special focus on youth.
The project runs from October 2018 through the end of September 2023. Construction is currently underway. The Latin American Center for the Treatment of Spinal Cord Injuries, which will be built in Guadalajara, will be the only center in Mexico dedicated to serving the target population. The treatment center aims to promote the American values of equal access and opportunity by empowering young people with spinal cord injuries with the physical independence and renewed self-esteem needed to actively participate in society.
The state-of-the-art treatment and rehabilitation center will be equipped with cutting-edge technology and innovative resources. In addition to treating patients, the center will also generate and disseminate new science and technology. Within its first four years, it is anticipated that the center will treat 500 patients with spinal cord injuries, mainly youth and young adults between the ages of 12-35 who live in poverty and in a state of high vulnerability.
“The Latin American Center for the Treatment of Spinal Cord Injuries will ensure that youth with spinal cord injuries have access to the treatment and rehabilitation care they need,” said Father Gus Baek, director of Salesian Missions. “Educational and community inclusion for youth with physical disabilities has been a focus for Salesian missionaries in Mexico for several years now. Missionaries help youth with disabilities access education and workforce development training and increase their sense of community and support among their peers.”
People who use wheelchairs in Mexico face difficulties in traversing city streets independently. Between dilapidated road conditions and a lack of elevators and accessibility in public transportation and work places, people with spinal cord injuries struggle to be given the chance to succeed.
It was only in 1999 that people with disabilities were granted access to full health care rights in Mexico. According to the international resource center Global Disability Rights Now!, 4.16 million people in Mexico have mobility disabilities. This marginalized population experiences significantly higher rates of poverty and unemployment than people without disabilities. Due to these disadvantages, people with disabilities are often more dependent on family and government support and lack individual empowerment to enhance their lives. Change is occurring in Mexico benefiting people with disabilities; however, an absence of opportunities still exists.
Spinal cord injuries require a high degree of specialized care and rehabilitation in order to help patients recover from the trauma of their injury and adjust to a radically new way of life in a wheelchair. The majority of hospitals in Mexico are ill-equipped to provide this level of personalized attention and care. In addition to receiving physical rehabilitation and psychological assistance, patients must learn new techniques of navigating everyday life situations, such as accessing education, cooking, using the bathroom, getting in and out of bed, being effective in their workplace or securing employment. Furthermore, both patients and families need to be educated in preventive measures to avoid potentially deadly complications associated with sedentary life.
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