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Mexico… land of (healthy) smiles

6 October 2007

“Now there are some things that could sound ironic: while Mexican patients try to come here, cross the border looking for advanced medical treatment for tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, malaria, obesity and diabetes and liver disease, a lot of American citizens cross the border every single day, in groups, to get in Mexico basic medical care like dentists or even, in recent years, laser eye surgery,” said Manuel de la Rosa, vice dean at the School of Medicine at the Texas Tech University in El Paso.

Quoted by Agence France Press in an article on the Juarez dental clinics that thrive on the lack of affordable health care in the United States.

Fred Reed — and a lot of other observers since Bernardo Diaz de Castillo first mentioned it — that even poor Mexicans generally have good teeth. Even General Santa Ana, who basically never gave a shit about the health and care of the poor Mexican, did his part for good dental hygiene (he introduced chicle chewing to the world — though his New York landlord, Mr. Adams, dumped a lot of sugar into what was just a cheap way to keep your teeth and gums clean, and invented Chicklets).

Diet and genetics are partially responsible, but then, so is making basic health care (including dentistry) available to the poor.  Heck, if you look at the day laborers and mojados, the ones with crappy teeth you see are usually Guatemalans or Hondurans… from countries that follow U.S. models when it comes to public services… or just don’t bother with them.

With Bush and Co. reluctant to give even minimal health care to poor children, and making nothing available to us poor adults, I guess I guess they expect us poor adults to gum our food (or miss work because of absesses, impacted wisdom teeth and other common ailments).

I got to admit that the arguments against public health care make no sense. Geeze, what’s different about providing health clinics than providing gas or wi-fi or a fire department or parks?  And we’re not even talking about the “high dollar” items — AIDS and malaria and liver transplants but basics like condoms and mosquito control and general checkups — and filling cavities.

Gold Hat, before visiting the orthodontist…

… and after.  And it didn’t take the Treasure of the Sierra Madre to pay for it, either.  Smile!

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