Organized crime has threatened medicine students who are assigned to rural Mexicali health centers.

During the past semester a student was questioned by members of an armed criminal band while driving on a rural road, La Voz newspaper reported. The student was assigned to a different area for protection.

Autonomous University of Baja California School of Medicine Dean José Manuel Avendaño confirmed the incident to the newspaper that led college officials to protect students for the upcoming semester.

The school opened 60 positions for practicing students, with half of those located in rural towns.

A program of student protection and oversight was set for those areas, the dean said.

In case of threat, students will be assigned to a new health center.

“When a practicing student is removed from a health center many times the center is left without service,” Dean Avendaño said. “This is a serious problem for the Department of Health, but especially for people.”

Before practicing student Erick Andrade was murdered in Durango, School of Medicine staff approached the Attorney General’s office to request help for students.

The meetings produced a measure to monitor students in real time through an application. The strategy also includes links to the 9-1-1 hotline and WhatsApp groups that has law enforcement and School of Medicine personnel.

The authorities plan a follow-up meeting in order to set traveling routes from student homes to health centers, the newspaper reported.

Besides, the authorities had set dangerous routes that must be skipped by students.

The Attorney General’s office staff trained students in criminal threat reaction.

The newspaper added that the National Practicing Students Association estimates that last year up to 6,000 students were assigned to health centers located in remote communities. The association reported that up to 40 percent of students were assaulted — mostly by organized crime.

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