Gente de I'itoi


Indigenous Health

Bahi Say Health Program

Bahi Say means three sisters in the Yoeme language. The tenacity of Yoeme culture is an example for the perseverance of indigenous culture. This program is named Bahi Say, for three modes of medicine contained in the program:  community based health promotion and medicinal plant medicine, clinic based allopathic diagnosis and treatment, and clinic based traditional indigenous plant medicine.

The modern world which traditional communities live in necessarily requires an integration of different modes of medicine. The combination of allopathic and traditional indigenous medicine in the Americas is not new. Communities in Oaxaca, Mexico, and in the mountain highlands and in Peten, Guatemala have carried out multi-modal medicinal practices in rural areas for decades.

The Bahi Say Health Program combines community based health strategies with allopathic and indigenous health modalities for diagnosis and treatment in a health center. The program deliberately identifies the planned facility, the Joya del Sol Centro de Salud as a health center because it offers more than curative care, training in health promotion and prevention.

Modes of Complementary Medical Practice

  • Allopathic medicine
  • Traditional indigenous medicine with emphasis on medicinal plants

Health Center Functions

  • The Health Center will carry out several functions: patient diagnosis and treatment, health education,  and health prevention, Outdoor and inside space is provided for families accompanying patients who can wait in the waiting room, in the plant medicine garden, or on outside patios

Patient Diagnosis and Treatment:

  • Receive, diagnose, and treat indigenous persons who attend appointments previously arranged through community contact


  • Diagnose and treat women’s conditions
  • Diagnose and treat pediatric conditions
  • Temascal / Sweatlodge (specific medical conditions may not allow some individuals this option).


  • Dispensary of pharmaceutical medicine
  • Dispensary of plant medicine

Health Education and Community Based Health Promotion


  • Training workshops in health promotion for common conditions known to doctors and health promoters
  • Plant medicine demonstration garden of native and heritage medicinal plants.
  • Consultation on the use of plant medicin
  • No emergency or regular major surgical services
  • Only surgical service authorized for a Health Center
  • No hospital beds – only exam beds
  • Coverage is not open to any or all individual indigenous persons due to limited resources. Within Indian country, some communities have access to state services, while others do not. We will prioritize both rural, isolated, poor and immigrant communities that are not served or severely underserved by state services.
  • This is not a-for-profit medical clinic, but rather a non-profit that relies on professional volunteers and paid medical staff

Patient Base
Indigenous communities where Gente de I’itoi, AC has developed relations with traditional leaders and has recruited and trained health promoters will serve as a primary patient base. Indigenous individuals who become registered with The Joya del Sol Health Clinic though community contacts or in person will be eligible for health and medical services at the Health Center. Families identified as pajareros, the amalgamated band of local indigenous in Imuris and Magdalena and local members of the San Isidro Ejido will also be given limited access to services based on low income. Other communities where Gente de I’itoi, A.C. has established relationships will be served through arrangements with their traditional leaders. Those locations are listed below under the Health Promotion section.

Health Promotion
The limited access of indigenous communities in small rural communities in Sonora was the impetus for a survey of heath access and health status in 2008-2009. Health screenings in two Southern Sonoran and two Northern Sonoran indigenous communities and subsequent health promotion training in tuberculosis prevention were carried out.

Actions Taken:
Health screenings and or health promotion workshops held by Gente de I’itoi in the following communities:  

  • Mesquital de Buiyacusi, Mun. Navajoa, Son. (Mayo)
  • Maicoba, Munic. de Yecora, Son. (O’ob)
  • Indigenous Immigrant community, Nogales, Munic. Nogales, Son. (Masawa)
  • Immigrant indigenous migrant work camp, DAT Greenhouses,  Tacicuiri, Munic. Magdalena, (indigenous from Oaxaca, Chiapas, Michoacan, Veracruz, Puebla, etc)
  • Immigrant indigenous migrant work camp, Crispy Green Greenhouses, Janos, Munic. Magdalena, (indigenous from Oaxaca, Chiapas, Michoacán, Veracruz, Puebla, etc.)
  • Pitiquito, Munic. Pitiquito, Son. (Tohono O’odham)
  • Hodai Ku’k (Pto. Peñasco), Munic. Pto. Peñasco, Son. (Tohono O’odham)
  • Pajarero Community, San isidro, Munic. Magdalena, Son.

Health Promotion Training

Health Promotion training is an investment in improving the knowledge in indigenouscommunities aboutspecificpreventive heath steps to assist their community.  Health promoters take on multiple roles. A key one is servingas the liaison between outside health professionals and community practices and customs.

Actions Taken:

  • Six community health promoters were trained in tuberculosis  prevention in 2010. Tuberculosis is the largest infectious disease along the US Mexico border.
  • Two videos were produce using an indigenous film crew and three indigenous actresses, one in Spanish, and one in the Tohono O’odham language in 2010

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