Binational Health Week

Chef LaLa empowers the community as she participates in the second annual Binational Health Week (BHW). A historic opportunity to improve Immigrant Health and Well-Being.


Binational Health Week (BHW) A Historic Opportunity to Improve Immigrant Health and Well-being

The nearly 3.2 million Mexicans living and working in California contribute significantly to the state’s economy. However, no group faces greater barriers, particularly the state’s more than 1 million agricultural workers, to the basic human right of health care.

The California-Mexico Health Initiative (CMHI) is a collaborative program of the California Policy Research Center, University of California Office of the President. CMHI aims to coordinate California and Mexican efforts to improve the quality of life of immigrant families by expanding their access to health care, increasing their health-insurance coverage, and reducing their unmet health needs. CMHI operates in California, where nearly half of the Mexican- origin population in the United States resides, and in seven Mexican states with high international mobility: Baja California, Guanajuato, Jalisco, Michoacan, Oaxaca, Puebla, and Zacatecas. In California, CMHI has been working in twelve counties and is planning to expand its work to other rural areas as well. The counties are: Alameda, San Francisco, Fresno, Imperial, Los Angeles, Monterey, Sacramento, San Mateo, Sonoma/Napa, San Diego, Ventura, and Orange. Expanded work areas include Kern and Merced.

In October 2001, The California-Mexico Health Initiative (CMHI) convened Binational Health Week (BHW), an unprecedented effort overseen by multiagency task forces which conducted health-promotion activities involving 115 community-based organizations from seven counties at 98 sites. More than 950 people participated in planning and implementing activities, and over 18,720 people received direct health-care services during the week. A mural was unveiled at a community health clinic. Additionally, the week closed with the participation of 120 researchers from California and Mexico in an academic forum. Media campaigns produced more than 150 electronic and print media hits.

The 2002 Binational Health Week will bring health actions to thousands of these residents, BWH will include health promotion and preventive activities focused on several areas including cervical and breast cancer, immunizations, diabetes, mental health, nutrition and exercise, STDs/HIV, health insurance and work-related injuries. Activities will be held concurrently in twelve California counties and seven Mexican states.

In the spirit of collaboration between the Californian and Mexican governments, Binational Health Week activities in California will involve working partnerships among Mexican Secretariats of Health and Foreign Affairs, border health organizations, the California Department of Health Services, the Centers for Disease Control and numerous communit-based organizations and county health agencies. Agencies and organizations across the state will be working complementary with the “Vete Sano, Regresa Sano Program,” Mexico’s hugely successful health education and awareness program for migrant families. Also, California activities will compliment the Mexican National Health Week. Since 1993, the Mexican Secretariat of Health has implemented this nationwide health week and immunization crusade three times a year throughout Mexico reaching millions of underserved citizens and boosting immunization among children to almost 100%.

Binational Health Week will focus on three key strategies: health education and promotion activities, inaugural events, and press events. The inaugural event will take place in the city of Morelia and in Indaparapeo in the state of Michoacan with the participation of federal, state, and local representatives including organizations for Mexicans abroad. The objective of this event is to generate a dynamic dialogue between California and Mexico representatives, as well as the discussion of short term concrete commitments to be implemented during 2003. According to the CMHI vision: “Health is a universal human right that should be respected both in one’s place of origin and where one works.”

The second annual Binational Health Week, is one component of the California-Mexico Health Initiative (CMHI), a broad partnership convened by the California Policy Research Center, University of California, Office of the President. The UC effort is funded by The California Endowment and the California HealthCare Foundation through a series of grants.

The California-Mexico Health Initiative will continue to work throughout the year on both sides of the border to expand access to health services, improve health insurance coverage and reduce unmet health needs of Mexicans living and working in California.