EL CENTRO, Calif. - State and local officials from both sides of the border said health issues are posing a serious threat to their communities and want to know what’s being done about it.
Senator Ben Hueso posed the question to a panel of local health officials, “Are programs having a positive effect in targeting and reducing disease in the border region?”
They met on Friday morning in the City of Imperial to discuss updates on ongoing border heath projects.
Assembly Member Eduardo Garcia asked, “Are you seeing that programs, strategies that are being made here on the ground improving based on the data that you’re providing?”
Three special panels commented on several health border issues. One of the issues was that some diseases were increasing.
April Fernandez, with the Office of Binational Border Health, said, “The health areas of interest in the border area are obesity, diabetes, tuberculosis, sexually transmitted infections and HID AIDS.”
Jose Angel, State Water Quality Control Board, said Mexico is working to stop pollution from crossing the border through the new river.
“So far, for the last four years, they’ve spent close to eight million dollars just addressing that,” Angel said.
Jose Luis Olmedo, Comite Civico del Valle, said, more attention is needed to local environmental issues, as well.
“I think that’s going to be a continued challenge to elevate the importance of creating a safe environment, so that we are also at a more rapid pace reducing the infectious disease problems that originate because of environmental problems,” Olmedo said.
They all agree to stop this collaboration would be a major health and economic disaster for both regions.
“If we stop to continue to assist Mexico from a technical and financial perspective, the new river is going to revert back to the quality and stench that we had throughout the eighties and nineties. Keep in mind that we had anywhere from one to twenty million gallons of raw sewage in the river at that time,” Angel said.
Angel said the state wants to invest over 75 million dollars in the area to stop diseases from crossing the border.