Abstract This paper is intended to explain a short history of Mexican Americans living in the United States of America, traditional health care that some have chosen, and also a multitude of holistic medical treatments that some Mexican Americans believe in and use. This paper will include research conducted online (internet) and off-line (non internet) and personal interactions (self). Mexican Americans / Health Care As of the 2009 U. S. Census, Mexican Americans represent approximately 10. 3 percent, 31. 7 million, of the US population.
By the year 2040, the Census Bureau projects that there will be 87. 5 million Mexican Americans making up 22. 3 percent of the nation’s total population. A majority of Mexican Americans relied most frequently on traditional medical beliefs and practices to resolve health problems up through the first decade of the twentieth century. In some situations, a physical ailment might easily be alleviated or eliminated by herbs or other natural medicines or remedies. Throughout history Mexican Americans have chosen traditional health care and also a variety of holistic treatments.
The United States is home to the second largest Mexican community in the world second only to Mexico itself comprising nearly 22% of the entire Mexican origin population of the world. In addition, as of 2008 there were approximately 7,000,000 undocumented Mexicans living in the United States which if included in the count would increase the US share to over 28% of the world’s Mexican origin population (some of the undocumented would be captured in the US Census count depending on their willingness to provide information).
Most Mexican Americans live in the five southwestern states of California, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and Oklahoma, but there are large populations in cities throughout the country. In New Mexico one third of the population is Hispanic, in both Texas and California over one quarter, and Los Angeles has the world’s third largest group of urban Mexicans, after Mexico City and Guadalahara. Mexican Americans have a relatively high prevalence of conditions and risk factors including asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, HIV/AIDS, diabetes, and obesity.
According to the Office of Minority Health ; Health Disparities the number 1 killer of Mexican Americans in 2007 was heart disease. Factors that contribute to poor health outcomes among Mexican Americans include language and cultural barriers, lack of access to preventive care, and lack of health insurance. Private health insurance coverage among persons under age 65 was only 41. 7% for Hispanics/Latinos in 2007, compared to 76. 2% for non-Hispanic whites and 66. 8% for the total population.
Among Hispanic/Latino subgroups, Mexicans were least likely to be insured (37. 9%). Reports from the Institute of Medicine have demonstrated that racial and ethnic health disparities persist even when controlled for factors such as access to care. An underlying explanation for this finding is the perpetuation of healthcare provider biases. That is, healthcare providers’ perceptions or assumptions about a patient based on their racial or ethnic background alters their provision of care.
Researchers have found that in children hospitalized for surgical correction of serious limb fractures, whites were on average administered a substantially higher dose of narcotic pain medication at 22 mg/day, compared with blacks at 16 mg/day and Mexican Americans at 13 mg/day. (Zust) Mexican Americans mostly rely on remedies from their mothers and grandmothers due to the fact they have accumulated knowledge gained from personal experience or observation of others passed down from generation to generation.
On those occasions in which relief from a specific affliction was not achieved through home remedies, however, individuals or families might solicit the assistance of a curandero. According to Wikipedia a curandero is a traditional folk healer or shaman in Latin America, who is dedicated to curing physical or spiritual illnesses. The role of a curandero can also incorporate the roles of psychiatrist along with that of doctor and healer.
Many curanderos use Catholic elements, such as holy water and saint pictures. In general, all folk healers possessed a certain God-given gift or ability that provided them the power to restore the health of others. They might accomplish this through the use of herbs, massages or oils, and/or the aid of the spirit of another more powerful healer serving as a medium between this more potent spirit and the afflicted person. Alternatively, some used cards to divine an illness or to prescribe a remedy.
As more Mexican Americans have immigrated to large cities and greater numbers moved into more integrated settings, a higher percentage of them came to depend on practitioners and services of the U. S. medical community, occasioned either by easier access to these facilities, by the availability of medical insurance through their employers, or because of decreasing contact with families maintaining ties to traditional health practices.
Though their importance among Mexican Americans has diminished considerably over the last century, folk healers remain as a viable source for assistance with illness. Second-generation families living in rural areas may have easier access to curanderos and therefore use them more frequently, and these curers still may consult with urban dwellers whose family medical doctors, despite the advances in contemporary medicine, are ineffective in treating a given ailment.
History has shown that when Mexican Americans started immigrating to the United States of America, many of them believed in a more holistic approach to health care, however as the years have progressed, a majority of Mexican Americans have turned to physicians for their medical care. Mexican Americans still have quite a wall to climb to receive medical care due to the fact a majority of the Mexican Americans who are located in the United States are uninsured and therefore have to turn to family holistic treatments.