By Sylvia Barron
Health care providers and advocates on both sides of the border recently celebrated “Binational Health Week,” one of the largest mobilization efforts to improve the health and well being of the underserved Latino population living in the United States.
Planned Parenthood of San Diego & Riverside Counties (PPSDRC) was proud to join community partners like the San Ysidro Health Center, Vista Community Clinic, the Mexican Consulate in the ninth Binational Health Week, which served 700,000 Latinos by offering health screenings, insurance referrals and practical workshops.
Together we must continue to build on the solid foundation set by Binational Health Week, and make a commitment to go even further, understanding that San Diego and Tijuana are not two separate cities; rather we are one border region.
When former PPSDRC board member, Philip M. Klau-ber first introduced the idea of a Binational family planning and primary health care program, he noted that we share the same water and breath the same air as our neighbors to the south. The San Diego-Tijuana border is crossed more often than any other in the world. Every day 40,000 automobiles cross the San Ysidro border.
The border is not a divider between two cultures, but a part of our interdependent community.
Twenty years ago, our local Planned Parenthood forged a partnership with Tijuana’s Fronteras Unidas Pro Salud so our agencies could share information and resources to serve the border region. Using the best practices of each organization, we aimed to reduce the rate of unplanned pregnancy and STIs, and improved overall health.
Planned Parenthood modeled its Promotores Pro Salud program after the highly successful health delivery system widely used in Mexico. “Promotores,” peer educators, go door-to-door in their communities, offering information about health care. We are pleased to see that the program is as effective in the United States as it is in Mexico.
In fact, Assembly member, Manuel Perez presented our Promotores Program with a “Certificate of Recognition” for its outstanding work that reaches 15,000 residents of Riverside’s Coachella Valley.
When Fronteras Unidas Pro Salud began opening clinics in Tijuana, Planned Parenthood shared knowledge and resources that come from being America’s oldest and most trusted name in reproductive health care. Today, there are eight clinics in Tijuana neighborhoods, serving 18,000 residents. The Mexican organization also operates maquiladora-based clinics where workers can receive cervical cancer screenings, birth control, and supplies at the factories where they are employed.
PPSDRC and Fronteras Pro Salud have enjoyed a successful partnership for twenty years and look forward to continuing the collaboration for many years to come.
Binational Health Week is a wonderful opportunity to reach Latinos with important health services and information. PPSDRC was honored to be part of this week that made a difference in so many lives of Latinos in the United States. It must also serve as an opportunity for health care providers and advocates to reach beyond the border and strengthen the relationships they have with our counterparts to the south. Because when we do, our entire community benefits.