CALIFORNIA-MEXICO BORDER: Agencies Address Health Issues
The newly formed and "long-overdue" Office of Binational Border Health has begun efforts to address "some of the most stubborn and complex health issues along California's border with Mexico," the Los Angeles Times reports. Joining similar state offices in other affected counties, the San Diego-based agency will act as an "information clearinghouse and nerve center for a variety of border projects by federal, state and county health agencies." The area's international human traffic, widespread poverty and poor sanitation and pollution have resulted in a higher incidence of diseases, including TB, dysentery, respiratory disease and AIDS, than the national average. As part of their task, the staff of eight workers and two specialists will work under a $750,000 budget to stop the spreading of disease and illegal medications trade along the border. The office was created through legislation written by Assemblywoman Denise Ducheny (D-San Diego) and signed into law by Gov. Gray Davis (D) last year. Stephen Waterman, a CDC epidemiologist, said, "Just as NAFTA is trying to merge two economic systems, this is the first step to merging the disease surveillance systems of the two countries." Alvaro Garza, head of the California border office, said, "The challenge is being two different systems, two different countries, two different cultures." The agency's Mexican counterparts have yet to be determined (Ellingwood, 2/13).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.