Health

Designate a Public Health Regional Fund to Support Public Health, Surveillance and Security for the Texas-Mexico Border

Proposal

Establish a State Designated Texas-Mexico Border Public Health Fund to address core public health services and public health emergency response and preparedness for this region addressing the cross jurisdictional and international potential health threat. This is especially important; since public health, current, emerging and new disease threat level on the Texas/Mexico Border is at an all-time high, if not the highest!

Background

Public Health disease control, prevention, regulatory services, emergency response (preparedness) and border health security is needed to ensure the health and safety of Texans. The increased role in prevention, early detection, disease control, preparedness response and interagency collaboration is critically important. Therefore, through the years the City of Laredo Health Department (CLHD), Cameron County Health and Human Services, Hidalgo County Health and Human Services and El Paso City County Health and the Texas Department of State Health Services have partnered to safeguard agonist disease entry into Texas. We are ready and prepared to enhance core public health services and public health emergency preparedness to keep our communities, the region, Texas, the nation and the cross jurisdictional international region safe from bioterrorism, new public health threats and all hazardous threats. The Region geographically is located in a high-risk area for disease and public health threats due to our binational and international vulnerability to threats of diseases which if not contained on the Texas/Mexico Border; have the potential of multiplying throughout the State of Texas and the nation. To compound matters, many sectors of our Texas/Mexico Border remain underserved and lack adequate resources for response and containment yet for many, public health continues to serve as the medical home for preventive primary care, maternal child health services, immunizations and dental care adding significantly to our responsibility in core public health services (disease control, surveillance, wellness and prevention and public health emergency response). Consequently the role of Public Health on the Texas/Mexico Border is that of health care delivery, public health disease control and public health homeland security.

Historically, resources have not been provided equitably and as a result, additional support as a border region for core public health services is needed in particular for: 1). disease control (epidemiology, surveillance, disease investigation and intervention); 2). environmental health (food management, prevention and enforcement as well vector control and zoonosis); 3). prevention and health promotion, especially nutrition; 4). laboratory testing for early detection and confirmation and 5). communications. This can be accomplished through a special public health regional fund. Local health departments are bearing more of the local response with local resources for core public health services and continue to provide services for those regional areas without local public health support. For the state's safety we must maintain international border public health readiness for prevention, surveillance and safety. Today public health response to disease control, disaster management, foodborne disease management and enforcement (important due to illegal food entry and selling) is even more important. Local health departments along the Texas-Mexico border are currently providing over 80% of the public health services. Core public services are being met but have become overwhelming and additional new resources are needed by local health departments.

The CLHD is requesting this funding for Public Health Readiness and Response along the Texas-Mexico Border at least with an additional $200,000 per health department per year for the biennium ($800,000) to conduct:

Disease Control, Prevention and Public Health Emergency Preparedness Activities:

  1. Maintain surveillance, detection, disease control and food safety/enforcement 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 and food borne disease as well other emerging and new threats such as environmental exposures and their co-morbidities (Chikungunya V).

  2. Maintain Border Health security by enhancing Texas//Mexico border health security services and partnerships for epidemiology, surveillance, public health risk reduction, communication and testing. 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 hazards threats.

Contact

Dr. Hector F. Gonzalez
Health Department Director
2600 Cedar Avenue
Laredo, TX 78040
Phone: (956) 795-4901
Fax: (956) 726-2632
Email: hgonzalez@ci.laredo.tx.us