Urban poor workers who live in urban slums are particularly dependent on good health. If a household’s principal wage earner can’t work, the loss of income along with the subsequent medical costs is enough to throw lower-income families into even deeper poverty. Yet, those who can least afford bad health live in a community that is a recipe for sanitary and health disaster. Poor housing conditions, air pollution, and lack of access to services, such as drainage and paved roads all contribute to poor community health outcomes. While the government provides health services, the distribution of those services is grossly unequal. The major health care complexes are located in the heart of Mexico City, making access difficult. Many must use costly private health services, which send them into long-term debt.
Project ProSalud exists to create a holistic community health model that will help thousands of families to develop healthy lifestyles – physically, emotionally, sexually, environmentally, and spiritually, with the goal of then reproducing this model in other social contexts.ProSalud was designed by studying best practice interventions from around the world, seeing that community health programs in poor urban neighborhoods have shown a dramatic impact in tackling diseases that are easily preventable.
ProSalud focuses primarily on preventing common diseases and reducing health costs. This is done by connecting participating families to existing governmental or private health services and encouraging holistic community health, including the prevention of environmental degradation and emotional health recovery. However, ProSalud staff does not carry out the bulk of the activities themselves. Instead, the project’s main strategy is to identify and develop local leaders. These community Promoters then work to improve health outcomes in their own neighborhoods as they build social capital and increase civic participation via small community projects. In addition, through our nutrition program we work closely with local Kindergarten and primary schools to reduce malnutrition in children ages 1-10, while working with mothers to develop healthier diets.