|A panel session is dedicated to border health during the 140th annual meeting of the American Public Health Association|
San Francisco, CA, October 31st, 2012 (PAHO/WHO) – Representatives from the Pan American Health Organization / World Health Organization U.S.- Mexico Border Office had the opportunity to present the many challenges facing communities living on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border, during a session panel within the 140th Annual Meeting of the American Public Health Association (APHA) held in San Francisco, California on Monday October 29th, 2012.Five presenters highlighted unique public health topics that exist on both sides of the border, such as immunizations, violence and injury prevention, mental health, environmental health and communicable diseases.
is one of the most cost-effective public health strategies and the most
socially accepted; yet, it is a preventive tactic that the border
region still struggles to employ. Those who migrate to the United States
are often missing vaccinations, resulting in gaps in immunization
coverage. In addition, immunization requirements vary by border state in
the U.S., so those who migrate to the U.S. from Mexico with limited or
no health records may end up getting duplicated doses.
To address this issue, Dr. Gustavo Iturralde, a Health Promotion
Consultant, stated “institutions on both sides of the border have
strengthened in order to increase immunization coverage and decrease
inequities.” This includes increasing communication between the two
nations and between health care agencies to prevent the overuse of these
valuable and limited resources. Moreover, this issue has been addressed
through the development of the immunization comparison tools, which
compare the Mexico’s national vaccination scheme with each of the U.S.
High rates of communicable diseases, such as tuberculosis, syphilis and HIV/AIDS, among others are also afflicting communities surrounding the U.S.-Mexico border. “These obstacles arise due to legal issues, continuity of care (sometimes due to deportation) and complexities of reporting and case management," said Dr. Enrique Perez-Flores, Disease Prevention and Surveillance Advisor, who highlighted the need to "strengthen binational information systems and surveillance, as well as the various programs that carry out surveillance, prevention and control.”
Violence in media coverage and its effects on viewers were explored at the global health session as well. Lorely Ambriz, Alliances Development and Knowledge Management Specialist, provided an in-depth analysis of a three-week study conducted in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, on violence in the media (television, images and newspaper headlines) and its self reported effects on adults and children, as well as their perception of their surroundings. Ambriz revealed “on average, more than 50 percent of [media content] focused on the topic of violence.” Study participants felt conflicted and “stressed whether they [should] watch or read the media,” while children perceived their community in a negative light.
To address the media-violence issue, Dr. Maria Teresa Cerqueira, Chief of the PAHO/WHO Border Office, discussed the objectives and community impact of the Violence and Injury Prevention Initiative in Ciudad Juarez. The initiative focuses on strengthening mental health in primary care and promoting cultural changes. “The initiative has trained approximately 400 community health workers in 31 social health facilities to identify and refer individuals in need and at risk for mental illness and psychological problems," Cerqueira said. "Over 3,200 people have been referred.” Children are also involved in the initiative’s services, as they are encouraged to engage in silly putty, photography, graffiti and silkscreen workshops to cultivate their young minds.
In addition, to the health, mental health and violence situation, Dr. Marcelo Korc Sustainable Development and Environmental Health Advisor, explained the environmental public health issues and challenges in the U.S.-Mexico border. “Limited access to drinking water and sanitation services is still an issue in poor rural areas of both sides of the border,” expressed Dr. Korc. All presenters discussed and analyzed the role of the PAHO/WHO Border Office in technical cooperation and collaboration with federal, state and local institutions and communities to improve health on the U.S. Mexico border, as well as the lessons learned. The moderator of the sessions was Dr. James Hospedales, Senior Advisor, Prevention & Control of Chronic Diseases, of the PAHO HQ Office in Washington, DC.
Moreover, the PAHO/WHO Border Office representatives and Mr. James Hill, Advisor on Resource Mobilization from the PAHO HQ Office, further continue the discussion importance of strengthening collaboration and the public workforce along the border with Dr. Georges Benjamin, President of APHA and his team; the discussion including strengthening the collaboration with counterparts of Mexico from the Sociedad Mexicana de Salud Pública.
APHA Border Panel Program
The American Public Health Association is the oldest and most diverse organization of public health professionals in the world and has been working to improve public health since 1872. The Association aims to protect all Americans, their families and their communities from preventable, serious health threats and strives to assure community-based health promotion and disease prevention activities and preventive health services are universally accessible in the United States. APHA represents a broad array of health professionals and others who care about their own health and the health of their communities. Over 12,000 joined APHA in San Francisco for its 140th Annual Meeting.
For more information please contact:
Lorely Ambriz, M.S.I.S, Knowledge Management & Communication
Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) / A Regional Office of the World Health Organization (WHO) United States-Mexico Border Office
5400 Suncrest Dr. Ste. C-4 El Paso, TX 79912
Office (915) 845-5950 Ext. 42523 / Cel (915) 449-3040 / Fax (915) 845-4361