Nogales, AZ. (February 26, 2016)
SEAHEC’s Border Health Program Coordinator, Claudia Velasco, will represent Nogales Arizona on the new Ambos Nogales “Sister Cities” Health Committee, which was established earlier this month when Nogales Arizona and Nogales Sonora signed an addendum their 2011 “Sisterhood” Agreement. The addendum was added to facilitate collaboration between the communities known by locals as “Ambos Nogales.” Representatives of public and private sectors of both cities will develop an annual work program through committees on health, sports, culture, and economic development.
Last summer, after serving three years as SEAHEC’s liaison to the Nogales Binational Health Council, (COBINA) Ms. Velasco was elected to serve as COBINA Co-President alongside Dr. Laurence Alegría, Epidemiologist from the ISSSTE Clinic in Nogales Sonora. Dr. Alegría will represent Nogales, Sonora on the “Sister Cities” Health Committee.
SEAHEC’s teenaged “Citizen Scientists” for dengue awareness and prevention are one of the priority activities on the agenda of the new cross-border health committee. Earlier this year the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) invited SEAHEC to present its youth-led Citizen’s Science project conducted through the Future Healthcare Leaders (FHL) clubs from Nogales. The FHL’s are helping address the growing problem of mosquito borne diseases. The students have been working with Ms. Velasco, under the guidance of epidemiologists at the Arizona Department of Health Services Office of Border Health and the Santa Cruz County Health Department, to collect scientific data on local mosquito populations to help thwart the spread of mosquito borne diseases like dengue. The Mosquito Tracking Initiative is to be one of the “Sister City” cross-border health campaigns that Ms. Velasco will help promote.
Next steps include a community-wide education and awareness campaign designed to help communities learn mosquito surveillance and back-yard clean up strategies as techniques for preventing mosquito-borne illness including dengue, chikungunya and zika virus. Part of that campaign will be implemented through SEAHEC’s Future Healthcare Leaders Clubs.
SEAHEC Future Healthcare Leaders Club students from Nogales and Tohono O’Odham high schools will work closely with the Binational Health council of Ambos Nogales, (COBINA), and the Office of Border Health of AzDHS, the US Consulate Office of Nogales Sonora, the city of Nogales, AZ and other partners to conduct this educational campaign. SEAHEC Future Healthcare Leaders Clubs throughout southern Arizona works to prepare, encourage and assist youth from rural, border and tribal communities for careers in the healthcare field.