MIGRANT WORKERS: New Federal Panel Reviews Health Needs
Explaining that migrant farm workers often suffer from diabetes and "Valley fever" and receive poor prenatal care, Teresa Macias, COO of a San Joaquin chain of health clinics and the newest member of a federal panel advising the Clinton administration on migrant workers' health issues, said, "There are so many disparities between those that have and those that don't." Macias will share her expertise at the first official meeting of the National Advisory Council on Migrant Health, to be held in Washington, D.C. next weekend. In particular, the council intends to discuss the government's H2-A guest worker program, which allows an estimated 20,000 foreign farm workers into the country each year. Those close to the issue hope to replace the much-criticized H2-A program with a measure that will improve migrant worker housing and enroll more migrant workers in the Medicaid program. The council's 15 members will be briefed by the National Cancer Institute on research in migrant health; researchers note that few studies have focused on chronic diseases, such as cancer, that affect the "highly mobile" migrant worker population. Macias stressed, "We should not have to wait for our farm workers to die to start instituting protections" (Doyle, Scripps McClatchy News Service/Nando Times, 2/5).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.