City of

Federal Legislative Agenda 2017

US/Mexico Border Region Federal Designation for Public Health Border Security

Situation Assessment

Establish a Federal Designated U.S./Mexico Border Public Health Fund to address core public health services and public health emergency preparedness response. This is especially important since current funding for the region continues to be reduced or deleted for surveillance, core public health services, public health preparedness and response and chronic disease prevention. In particular the Public Health and Health Services Block Grant (PHHS), Early Warning Disease Surveillance (EWIDS), Tuberculosis Control and HIV Prevention funds have been eliminated or greatly reduced. This affects the U.S./Mexico border’s public health and emerging disease control and prevention response to current, emerging and new highly infectious public health threats.

 

Background

Disease control, chronic disease prevention, surveillance and detection continue to play an important role for early detection, disease containment and prevention. This is especially true among communities with large health disparities. With the continued threat of infectious, foodborne (illegal food entry), vectorborne disease and emerging diseases, early detection and surveillance is vitally important. Nowhere is the disparity more pronounced than on the US/Mexico Border. The H1N1 experience gave us an opportunity to assess our capabilities.  We need to ensure the safety and well being of the entire country; the U.S./Mexico Border plays a critical role in containment before it spreads through the U.S. To meet these health care challenges, both infrastructure and human resources are critically needed, especially as we address health security on the U.S./Mexico Border. No longer can communities like Laredo provide routine public health services that state and/or federal partners should, but cannot respond to (disease control and health security, infectious disease response, illegal food entry, testing and detection). Yet the increase of risk to international, regional and local exposure continues to rise. With the highest morbidity and mortality rates for tuberculosis in the state, the threat of new and emerging highly infectious diseases (Novel microbes, recurrent diseases, Ebola) and co- infections like diabetes, HIV, and substance abuse and behavioral health threatening the front door to the U.S, the US/Mexico border (binational and international bio-security threat) is a serious concern that warrants immediate and sustained public health services. Because disease does not respect borders, Public Health Emergency Response at the border is preparedness, response and health security for the nation.

 

Solution

Current, new and emerging public health challenges requires adequate surveillance, technical expertise for detection, treatment and testing such as through EWIDS, PHHS, Public Health Emergency Response and laboratory testing. Funding and resources should be based on need, contingency services and response and not on population formulas. Direct funding is urgently warranted and should be designated for the US/Mexico Border for:

 

Disease Control, Prevention and Public Health Emergency Preparedness Activities:

     1.  Maintain surveillance, detection, disease control and food safety/enforcement services and environmental health services
          that will be accomplished by appropriate staff (epidemiologist, sanitarians and senior laboratory). These persons will
          evaluate, monitor, investigate, enforce, test and take preventive and disease control  measures on communicable diseases
          (in particular Tuberculosis, HIV, vaccine preventable), all public health threats, zoonotic, vector borne (Chikungunya V) 
          and food  borne disease; as  well as,  other  emerging  and  new  highly infectious  disease threats that pose a health
          security threat .

 

     2.  Maintain Border Health security by enhancing US/Mexico border health security services and partnerships for
          epidemiology, surveillance, public health risk reduction, communication and testing especially as we face  emerging,
          new and highly infectious disease threats along with other co-morbidities. Continue prevention and detection training
          (i.e. infectious disease, disease detection and chronic disease management) in collaboration and coordination with local
          and Binational partners. These public health emergency response activities will ensure rapid communications,
          interventions, mitigation and prevention of all hazardous threats.

 

Progress

Ongoing but resources remain limited especially for border health security.

 

Target Agencies

Health Resource and Services Administration (HRSA)

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) -Centers for Children, Public Health Preparedness, Chronic Disease, Tuberculosis and HIV

Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) – Office of Global Affairs, Office of the Americas

Office of Policy and Planning, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, Division of International Health Security

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Department of Homeland Security

United States Food and Drug Administration

 

Contact

Dr. Hector Gonzalez  Health Department Director 2600 Cedar Avenue

Laredo, Texas 78040

Phone: (956) 795-4900

Fax: (956) 726-2632

Email: hgonzalez@ci.laredo.tx.us