Three major earthquakes shook Mexico in September, killing almost 400 people. Most devastation resulted from the 8.1-magnitude quake in Oaxaca on Sep. 7, followed by a 7.1 temblor near Mexico City on Sep. 19.
AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) Mexico personnel live and work in the affected communities, which are also home to some of the country’s most vulnerable populations. Almost immediately after both quakes, AHF members put their own safety and security on the line to mobilize and ensure their fellow citizens received emergency support, including medical supplies, food and other necessities.
“Even more than a month after the earthquakes, we see that the conditions of vulnerability have risen in many indigenous areas,” said AHF physician Dr. Ana Maria Matus. “We are alarmed about the increased gaps in transportation for patients who need to access our partner government clinic, which was also damaged during the quake.”
The Sep. 7 earthquake took 70 lives and destroyed more than 200,000 homes. AHF Mexico staff in Oaxaca temporarily repurposed a mobile testing unit to deliver emergency supplies to those in need.
AHF’s Latin America Bureau headquarters and Zona Rosa Wellness Center in Mexico City were damaged beyond repair on Sep. 19. Staff, including physicians, counselors and linkage [to care] coordinators were again on the ground in their communities to lend both tangible and emotional support.
“AHF is not a building or a place – it’s the people that make AHF what it is,” said AHF Mexico Country Program Manager Dr. Nicole Finkelstein. “Even during these disasters, that spirit prevailed and we were able to continue our mission of conducting HIV testing and treatment right alongside emergency assistance.”
AHF Mexico is the largest AHF program in Latin America. It has been operating there since 2007 and currently has 28,098 patients in care.