The Need for Bilateral Collaboration on Public Health

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  • #536

    Pamela Starr
    Keymaster

    Posted by Danielle Skloven

    Narco-trafficking, immigration, and trade continually dominate the headlines with regard to the U.S.-Mexico relationship. Yet, during Michelle Obama’s recent visit to D.F.— her first solo trip abroad— the First Lady paid less attention to those issues that divide and focused more on areas in which the U.S. and Mexico can work together to achieve better futures for both countries.

    “The responsibility of meeting the defining challenges of our time will soon fall on all of you,” Obama told students in a speech at the Universidad Iberoamerica. One of these challenges is public health. As the recent H1N1 pandemic so clearly demonstrated, national boundaries mean nothing to infectious diseases and other threats to a population’s health. As a result of increased trade and migration, North America is more interdependent than ever before.

    In the face of this reality, the governments and citizens of the U.S. and Mexico would be wise to evaluate their current approach to managing public health. As I argue in the policy paper that follows, a more collaborative approach to public health would benefit both countries in the short- and long-term. With obesity weighing on both countries’ health care systems and chronic disease affecting an increasing proportion of both populations, it is time to put our heads together to solve these common challenges.

    Click here to read the paper.

    • This topic was modified 3 years, 7 months ago by  Pamela Starr.
    • This topic was modified 3 years, 7 months ago by  Pamela Starr.
    • This topic was modified 3 years, 7 months ago by  Pamela Starr.
    • This topic was modified 3 years, 7 months ago by  Pamela Starr.
    #541

    Pamela Starr
    Keymaster

    Posted April 28, 2010

    Danielle Skloven has identified a piece of low-hanging fruit in the continuing effort to build a stronger bilateral relationship between the US and Mexico. At a moment when the bilateral relationship is dominated by the scourge of Organized Crime-related violence and the resulting perception in the United States that Mexico is a source of problems, Danielle has identified an issue around which a new narrative for the bilateral relationship can be constructed.

    In the past I have suggested using the common interest of both government in alternative energy to accomplish this purpose, but health care offers an even better means to this end. As Danielle notes, it is large and growing policy challenge for both countries, it is difficult to resolve unilaterally while being of particular interest to both administrations, and, if successful, it is apt to have a positive collateral impact on Mexican’s satisfaction with the performance of their democracy and of American perceptions of their southern neighbor. And, of course, it is so much more “healthy” to build collaboration in the bilateral relationship on an issue such as public health instead of on the military-police issue of security.

    I do have one constructive comment for this working draft of Danielle’s final policy paper: What is the history of bilateral cooperation between the two governments on issues of public health? What has worked in the past; what has not; and how might we learn from these previous efforts?

    #542

    Pamela Starr
    Keymaster

    Posted by Katherine Kemper
    May 20, 2010

    I was in studying in Mexico at the time of Michelle Obama’s trip to that country, and was delighted to see the positive coverage of her visit in the local press, and her distinct focus on addressing the obesity epidemic both countries are experiencing. During my time in Mexico I was shocked at the easy availability and nearly-constant consumption of countless varieties of unhealthy food choices – chips, cheese curls, sugary breads, soda; of course much the same is true in our own country, but we’re accustomed to it. As in the USA, the impact of the modern Mexican diet is increasingly evident in the girth of its population, and having a dramatic and measureable health impact as well. Not before time, the First Ladies of the USA and Mexico have found a worthy cause to champion, a cause whose importance may be just beginning to dawn on the Mexican public, but which could nonetheless pay important dividends in containing the cost of health care. There are numerous good reasons for the two countries to collaborate, well articulated in the attached paper and the other posts.

    In terms of successful precedent for bilateral cooperation between the two countries on public health issues, I would cautiously and with some caveats offer the example of tobacco use. In 2008, Mexico City became one of the world’s largest cities to enforce 100% smoke-free legislation; the entire country passed a comprehensive, though imperfect, tobacco control law the same year. While these laws and other related policy measures were not directly the product of governmental collaboration, health agencies and NGOs in both countries had worked together for years to lay the foundation for progress, and international precedent and support helped accelerate it. It is still early to assess the health impact of these measures, but opinion surveys in Mexico City indicate the public finds tobacco use less acceptable after being educated on the dangers of secondhand smoke. Surely there are many more public health victories that our two countries can realize by working together.

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