Project Concern International Mexico

Building a Healthy Border Region

Between five and six million people legally cross the U.S./Mexico border each month at San Ysidro and Otay Mesa. Industry, agriculture and the promise of jobs are the major factors that draw people to the border region. Rapid urbanization on both sides of the border has far outpaced the ability of government services to provide necessary physical and service infrastructures. On the Mexico side, many people live in poverty with insufficient housing and unsafe drinking water, as well as inadequate treatment and disposal of domestic and industrial waste. Although Mexico is now considered a middle-income country, almost half of Mexicoís 98 million people live on less than $2 per day.

Far too many families on both sides of the U.S./Mexico border live under tremendous hardships. Poor health plays a major role in these difficulties. Project Concern understands that disease knows no borders. We share many of the same health concerns, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS among the most critical. Tijuana reports the highest prevalence rates for HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis in Mexico. Extending our hands across the border, Project Concern works in both countries to help improve the health of our neighboring communities.

The Border Health Initiative

In 1996, The Border Health Initiative (BHI) was formed to address the existing and growing health needs of the border population through supporting and improving the work of health organizations in the region. The BHI has been an important resource for many border health organizations and individuals. Since its inception, the BHI has supported close to 2,620 professional health workers, providing them with information and skills aimed at enhancing their ability to serve the border population. The BHI is a vital resource for border health organizations, and the continued efforts of the BHI are essential for sustaining and strengthening the bi-national networking and collaboration between organizations on both sides of the border. The BHI helps groups strengthen organizational and technical capacity to reduce tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and substance abuse and to improve access to health care.

PCI is expanding its border health program to include more outreach and case management with Community Health Workers (Promotoras) in an effort to decrease ethnic disparities in health and increase access to health coverage. Promotoras have outreached to over 700 Latina women in San Diegoís South Bay on issues of substance abuse and mental health as well as having successfully enrolled 800 children into Healthy Families and MediCal insurance programs. In addition, the Community Health Worker Regional Development Center provides training, networking and career development to over 400 Promotoras from both sides of the border.

Medicina Social Comunitaria (MSC):
Community-Based Public Health Initiative for Tijuana

Project Concern has a long history of providing health care and education to communities in Northern Mexico. PCI sponsors nine clinics in Tijuana that are the focal point for community health worker training. Volunteers provide immunizations and teach mothers about nutrition, breastfeeding and strategies for preventing childhood disease.

Immunization programs treat children and mothers alike. Volunteers visit neighborhood homes for group discussions on reproductive health and family planning. This program also provides information to neighborhood men on family violence, responsible fatherhood, prostate cancer and womenís health. Additionally, Project Concern trains teenagers to educate their peers about reproductive health.

Technical Assistance to the Mexican Ministry of Health

Since 1992, PCI has had a collaborative agreement with the Mexican Ministry of Health (MOH) to provide training and other support in maternal and child health/nutrition and the environment. Over the years, the agreement has covered a wide variety of activities including food distribution, development and distribution of health education materials and training for MOH personnel. Currently, PCI is focusing on providing ongoing technical assistance and guidance to the MOH at the national level, as well as performing special projects related to monitoring and evaluation, qualitative research and organizational development. Between 1992 and 2002, Project Concern provided training to 600 health professionals and 4,000 health workers, benefitting 650,000 people total.

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