Belize City, April 28 2008 – Belize joined Mexico in a Health Caravan commemorating Vaccination Week in the Americas 2008 on Thursday April 24. This activity was initiated in the Corozal Free Zone on the Belize side of the Belize-Mexico border, and then proceeded to Chetumal, Quintana Roo, Mexico, on the other side of the border.
At the Corozal Free Zone, two Health Caravans (mobile units) from Mexico provided vaccinations and other preventive health services such as Pap smears, dental checks, and hypertension and diabetes screening to the border community. The opportunity of this binational event was taken to address dengue control through the elimination of breeding sites and other vector control activities such as insecticiding and larviciding.
Hon. Dr. José Angel Córdova Villalobos, Secretary of Health of Mexico, Hon. Pablo Marin, Minister of Health of Belize, and His Excellency Félix Arturo González Canto, Governor of Quintana Roo, all made remarks at a brief ceremony chaired by Dr. Jorge Polanco, Director of Health Services, Belize. H. E. Luís Manuel López Moreno, Ambassador of Mexico to Belize, and H. E. Rosendo Urbina, Ambassador of Belize to Mexico, also participated, as did health officials of the state of Quintana Roo and Belize. Dr. Philippe Lamy, PAHO/WHO Representative in Mexico and Dr. D. Beverley Barnett, PAHO/WHO Representative in Belize, were also present.
The delegations then traveled to the Teatro Constituyente in Chetumal, Quintana Roo for a brief meeting between the two Ministers of Health, followed by a press conference, and an official ceremony. The ceremony included addresses by the two Ministers of Health, and the Governor and the Secretary of Health of Quintana Roo. Hon. Pablo Marin, in emphasizing the importance of vaccinations at the border, said that, “the constant movement of people across the border reflects free trade, but also reflects the spread of diseases”. Dr. José Angel Córdova Villalobos invited youths aged 19-29 in Mexico to be immunized against rubella and measles and to be a part of the history of Mexico in eliminating these diseases. The ceremony also featured remarks by both PAHO/WHO country representatives.
A Letter of Intent was signed between the two countries to address various health issues of common interest and for the establishment of a Border Health Commission. Work will continue on defining the specific areas of cooperation, after which a “convenio” (agreement) will be signed by the two countries. Broad areas of cooperation being contemplated include the development of human resources, vector control - particularly to prevent malaria and dengue - migrant health, immunizations, and the sharing of mobile unit services.
At both events the Ministers of Health carried out symbolic vaccination of adults and children of both countries. The official ceremony ended with the passing of a symbolic immunization torch from Secretary of Health, Mexico to Minister of Health, Belize.
A photographic display which was mounted at the Teatro Constituyente demonstrated the cooperation in health which has existed between Belize and Mexico since the year 1902. This event has resulted in the commitment of both countries to strengthen primary health care and prevention at the Belize-Mexico border, with the support of the respective Ministries of Health and PAHO/WHO offices, the management of the Corozal Free Zone, and the Quintana Roo health authorities.
The Pan American Health Organization, which is the Regional Office of the World Health Organization, was founded in 1902, and works with all the countries of the Americas to improve the health and quality of life of their peoples.
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