The vastness of Mexico City is difficult to comprehend, but our visit to the Ministry of Health CDMX helped us begin that process. Serving millions of people, the Ministry of Health CDMX oversees dozens of hospitals and focuses especially on serving those populations that cannot afford to pay for health care.
Dr. Román Rosales Avilés, the Minister of Health for Mexico City, delivered a very through overview of the mission of the ministry as well as the four key areas of special focus: palliative care, dental care for the elderly, reducing the maternal mortality rate, and handling crisis situations for the mentally ill.
These vital projects would benefit greatly from bilateral and international partnership such as the one that faculty at IUPUI have fostered with colleagues in Kenya through the AMPATH Program. Established in the late 1980s, this program resulted from faculty from the School of Medicine travelling to Kenya, seeing a need, and responding by working with Kenyan colleagues not only to build a hospital but also to analyze non-medical factors that impact human health.
As Chancellor Paydar pointed out in his comments at the ministry, AMPATH reinforced to IUPUI faculty and others the need for data collection and analysis in order to systematically improve health care, and IUPUI is ideally positioned to provide such expertise not only to partners in Kenya but to partners around the world.
At the U.S. Embassy to Mexico City, the conversation about partnership continued, and I’m delighted to say, U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Roberta Jacobson seems very interested in visiting Indiana, but, of course, she is a diplomat. She was impressed to hear that we have the second largest school of nursing and the largest school of medicine in the country. In fact, her son is pre-med, and she said she would put a plug in for Indiana University when she next spoke with him.
One of the important projects Ambassador Jacobson is spearheading is 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund, which offers remarkable opportunities for student exchange and training partnerships. Through this public-private collaboration, the U.S. Department of State, Partners of the Americas, and NAFSA: Association of International Educators, corporations, foundations, U.S. Embassies, and universities have partnered to create innovative and sustainable student exchange and training programs. To date, a total of 126 Innovation Fund grants have been awarded to teams of 246 higher education institutions from 25 countries in the Western Hemisphere region.
After learning about the success of the Innovation Fund—as well as looking at an impressive book about the Museum of Anthropology, one of the finest museums of its kind in the world—we moved to a meeting with James A. Wolfe, Educational and Cultural Affairs Counselor, and his team, which includes a wide variety of experts trained to facilitate higher education exchanges and partnerships.
One of the most inspiring sights at that meeting for me was fellow Hoosier Jessica Norris (IU BA ’00), who majored in Spanish and Political Science back in the day and started her career with the State Department in 2006. I had the pleasure of meeting Jessica and her husband Paul Oliva, also a diplomat with the U.S. Embassy to Mexico City, at the alumni dinner on Wednesday evening, and had the good fortune to sit next to Paul who, by the end of the evening, deemed me his “partner in crime,” a title I bear with pride.
On the way to our last meeting, we drove down Reforma Avenue, one of the main thoroughfares in Mexico City where we encountered a magnificent roundabout with a beautiful example of the way art is incorporated wherever possible into the landscape of Mexico City.
Our delegation closed the day by splitting into two groups. One went to FUNED (a major Mexican foundation that funds scholarships), CONACYT (broadly equivalent to the National Science Foundation in the U.S.), and Rotoplas (a company that designs and manufactures tanks to hold fluids including water).
The other group met with colleagues at the National Institute of Public Health. I joined the latter group where we discussed the prospect of building on our research partnership with the institute. Dr. Angeles Martinez-Meir in the School of Dentistry is already partnering with Dr. Martha Maria Tellez Rojo, a researcher at the institute. They are working on a project analyzing the impact of fluoride use among pregnant women. There are promising prospects to build on this partnership in a number of different disciplines.
As the lights of Mexico City grew faded into the night from my airplane window, I could feel the strong pull of this magnificent city—its sights and sounds, its culture and cuisine, its intensity and diversity.
All of that and more will bring me back to this special place. . . . especially the people I met here. Their warm hospitality, welcoming spirits, and willingness to do all that they could to make every member of our delegation feel like we were home gave me the sense that the people of Mexico City and we in Indiana are kindred spirits. There’s a healthy dose of Hoosier hospitality here but, perhaps, just as much Mexican hospitality in the Hoosier state.
Tomorrow will bring new conversations about forging partnerships in the interest of educational and research excellence for members of the IUPUI delegation.
Take a look at the trip photo gallery on flickr, which includes a few bonus images you might enjoy.