“Brothers and sisters of the world united for the health of the girls and boys of the City of Mexico.”

By: Armando Ahued Ortega / Secretary of Health of CDMX, Mexico City

In difficult situations such as the tragedies provoked by natural disasters and wars, the connection between sister nations is strengthened.

Mexico has recently experienced one of its worst tragedies. The two earthquakes that struck us, strongly affecting several states of the Republic and leaving significant damage, allowed us to acknowledge the international solidarity and support. The help has been invaluable, and the work continues.

One of the strategic supports that today I wish to disclose, share and thank in a special way, is that of Israel. A country with which Mexico has always maintained an important political, cultural and economic relationship.

The Israeli army sent a brigade of 70 members, including engineers, search and rescue professionals, doctors and logistics specialists. Their outstanding performance won the heart of all civil society, all over Mexico.

As we have mentioned before, we are experiencing important psychological and emotional consequences. All the inhabitants of the affected cities, all our children, all the relatives who lost a loved one and all the volunteers and staff of any institution that provided support, have experienced emotional damage that needs to be dealt with.  You have to be aware that this is a process, and that when it happens, it is best to receive specialized help.

In an exchange of knowledge and experience, I had the opportunity to meet and work this past week with Israeli Dr. Esti Galilli-Weisstub (from the Hadassah Hospital). A prominent child and youth psychiatrist, whom the Israeli embassy suggested to us in order to exchange experiences that would allow us to define a strategic plan of support and communication for our society. Dr. Esti Galilli-Weisstub, has implemented and directed emotional support in southern Israel following the Gaza conflict in 2014 and in Sri Lanka after the 2004 tsunami.

In sharing the actions we are implementing in Mexico City, the doctor was satisfied and proud to find a Secretary of Health who had effective actions and messages in the area of mental health to provide support to the population.

Upon her arrival in Mexico City, we immediately started workshops with those in the medical staff of the Ministry of Health that have contact with children, the most important target audience, in order to sensitize them and provide them with tools to detect situations that reflect emotional and post-traumatic damage. We agree on the importance of working with the school system in preparing and providing teachers with the basic level knowledge and tools that are necessary to detect any sequels of the tragedy among the children of Mexico City, and then be able to provide immediate assistance.  Parents are very important in this process and we are also working with them. We are currently designing communication materials for everyone in Mexico City.

The common points in the implementation processes of support make us strong. We have learned from the tragedies we have experienced. Indeed, it was rewarding to hear the recognition that the specialist shared regarding the actions that we implemented during the 2009 Influenza epidemic.

We will not rest till we bring help to all the population that requires it. The reconstruction work continues. Mental health and emotional support for people is a priority for our Government. Dr. Miguel Ángel Mancera (Major of Mexico City) has instructed us to redouble our efforts and is committed to keep providing us with all the support and actions that are necessary. We will work together to get ahead, not only in health, but in all areas of Government. Mexico City and our country, will go forward.

Thanks to Israel for their support and solidarity. Thank you to all the countries that gave us your help. Thanks to the civil society that continues to provide support. Thanks to all the staff of the Ministry of Health. Be strong Mexico.”

 

This appeared in the Mexican newspaper Excelsior

Photo above: Hadassah Mexico Director Ethel Fainstein (far left); Mexico City Secretary of Health, Dr. Armando Ahued Ortega behind the Israeli flag; Prof. Esti Galili-Weisstub, Director of Hadassah’s Jerusalem Crisis Intervention Center and Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry; Hadassah Mexico Board Member Carlos Glatt (with the Mexico flag); and Vice-Ambassador of Israel to Mexico Alon Lavi

 

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