Isla Mujeres Mystery ~ Lynda L. Lock
Fishing economy changing to tourism

Sometimes in the course of looking for ideas to write about for our weekly blog we come across information that is surprising, or even quite shocking. Part-time resident Karen Rosenberg, LISW, recently emailed me the stats on diabetes in Mexico – and they are awful!


According to Mexico’s Department of Social Health, it is believed that 20% of all Mexican women and more than 25% of men are at risk of developing the disease. It’s the nation’s #1 killer, resulting in about 70,000 deaths a year. Diabetes has also become the main cause of limb loss and blindness in Mexico.

Tourists enjoying North Beach on a sunny Sunday afternoon

The economy of Isla Mujeres is gradually shifting from a fishing community to a tourism-based community. 

In the busy season from December to May workers can conceivably earn more money in the form of tips from restaurant or bar patrons, but on average most islanders earn around $9.00 USD per day. That does not leave enough money to eat in a healthy manner. Inexpensive processed food and high-sugar beverages are commonplace. 

Affordable – Coke Cola for baby

We shudder every time we see the young construction workers pedal past on their bicycles clutching their lunch break supplies in one hand. Most days their lunch consists of a two-litre bottle of Coke Cola and a fifty-cent stack of tortillas.


A few years ago the Medical Director of the Salud Publica (health clinic on Isla Mujeres) stated that the clinic does not have glucose monitoring devices or meters available. He estimated that up to 80% of the islanders live with undiagnosed diabetes until it is a life threatening condition. 



Diabetes Clinic 

Karen Rosenberg has been coming to Isla for the past eighteen years, and hosting the Portals to the Self: Isla Mujeres Women’s Retreat at the Na Balam Hotel for the past fifteen years. 

Karen said she started the clinics after a friend who worked at the hotel died from complications of undiagnosed diabetes and another friend at the Women’s Beading Coop went into a diabetic coma.
The first two free clinics were held at the Women’s Beading Cooperative, but they soon outgrew the limited space and moved the next year to the English School premises. The following year the clinic was so well attended they relocated again, this time to the even larger space at the Red Cross location in La Gloria.
Diabetes Clinic workers

Another community-minded full-time resident, Kathy Ennis RN, pitched in to help with the clinics. 

Then Geovanny Avalos from the Cruz Roja Isla Mujeres, added his invaluable assistance, helping the health professionals with testing and diabetes education. 



Registration of the walk-ins is handled by members of theWomen’s Beading Cooperative so this effort is a collaboration of ex-pats and local Islenos.

Members of Women’s Beading Cooperative at art fair

So, what can you do to help?The organizers are in desperate need of donations of test strips and meters, preferably Contour and Contour Next brands. The Fifth Annual Diabetes Clinic will be held on Thursday October 23rd, starting at9:00 a.m., at the Red Cross. The clinic will continue during the day until the supplies run out. They will perform testing of blood sugar levels, teach the recipients how to use the meters to monitor their blood glucose, counsel them in diabetes education and give replacement supplies when needed.


Karen writes: “If you have any connection with pharmaceutical companies or reps, doctor’s offices or hospitals that can donate these supplies, (short dated or even recently expired) please contact me via private message on FaceBook https://www.facebook.com/kfrlisw?fref=ts&ref=br_tf”
Money donations may be made through PayPal viakfrlisw@gmail.com. Supplies will then be purchased in your name and used for the clinic attendees.” If you would like additional information please contact Karen or Kathy via the email addresses listed below.
Hopefully these shocking numbers will motivate others to help out with the battle against diabetes on our favourite little island in paradise.

Hasta Luego
Lynda & Lawrie
kfrlisw@gmail.com             Karen Rosenberg
kathy@kathyandkeith.mx   Kathy Ennis

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