New cooperation along the United States-Mexico Border

The United States-Mexico Border Field Office of the Pan American Health Organization and the U.S.-Mexico Border Health Association are beginning a new stage of cooperation.

PAHO served as secretariat of USMBHA for 61 years, but starting today, with the signing of an autonomy and self-sufficiency agreement, PAHO will provide technical cooperation more efficiently, leaving the management in the hands of the Association.

The work among PAHO and USMBHA on the border has been a pioneering model effort between two large countries, Mexico and the United States. This tie began on June 16, 1943, when representatives of both countries agreed on a partnership between the two institutions.

Since then, health and environmental issues have been addressed in a very special zone: a frontier of over 3,000 kilometers long, with 13 million inhabitants in 10 Border States, 44 United States counties, and 80 Mexican municipalities.

"The border populations historically have been the most neglected. Left behind in a corner of the geography, in a space literally to the limit, these cities-and the inhabitants-have built identities and different and special realities," said Dr. Mirta Roses, PAHO's Director.

"These cities form a third space; they have their own identity, apart from the national identity. Even though in many cases there are enormous cultural and language differences, there is a border identity that should be respected. At the same time we can take this opportunity to create healthy spaces and binational or trinational health plans," she said.

The new agreement lays the groundwork for the autonomy of USMBHA, which will provide a promising action plan in order to further advance the work already done for the health of the border inhabitants. It is also the end of five years of work in which the sister institutions redefined their relations based on four key words: responsibility, commitment, respect, and participation.

As Roses points out, "the border space should be a collective space. We have to harmonize health codes and medical treatments and share service networks. Constructing these collective spaces is a challenge so that the border populations develop and benefit in the road to globalization."

The new agreement was signed on August 30, between Dr. Federico Saracho Weber, president of USMBHA, and Dr. Daniel Gutiérrez, chief of PAHO's Field Office, on behalf of Dr. Roses.

PAHO, since its founding in 1902, has worked to improve the health and quality of life of the people of the Americas, and to promote children's health. It also serves as the Regional Office for the Americas of the World Health Organization.

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) is an international public health agency with 100years of experience working to improve health and living standards of the people of the Americas. It enjoys international recognition as part of the United Nations system, serving as the Regional Office for the Americas of the World Health Organization, and as the health organization of the Inter-American System.

PAHO is based in Washington, D.C., and has scientific and technical experts at its headquarters, in its 27 country offices, and its nine scientific centers, all working with the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean in dealing with priority health issues. The health authorities of PAHO's Member States set PAHO's technical and administrative policies through its Governing Bodies. PAHO Member States include all 35 countries in the Americas; Puerto Rico is an Associate Member. France, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland are Participating States, and Portugal and Spain are Observer States.

The Organization's essential mission is to strengthen national and local health systems and improve the health of the peoples of the Americas, in collaboration with Ministries of Health, other government and international agencies, nongovernmental organizations, universities, social security agencies, community groups, and many others.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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