You can think of the border public health advocacy network as a binational matrix of public health partners that collaborate to improve conditions along the US-Mexico border.  The network includes national organizations like the U.S.-Mexico Border Health Commission along with state based partnerships like the Arizona-Mexico Commission and the annual U.S.-Mexico Border Governor’s Conference.  Community based binational partnerships are also a key component for setting public health priorities and implementing effective interventions.  The acronym, COBINAS, stands for Consejos Binacionales de Salud, or Binational Health Councils, in English.  Our partnerships span the full width of public health- from infectious disease work (like TB control), to substance abuse, physical activity & nutrition (like Cinco Pasos), tobacco cessation, environmental disease work (likeValley Fever), prescription drug misuse, lab capacity- even developing regional licensing standards. 

As part of my job as the Director, I’m a member of the U.S.-Mexico Border Health Commission, whose mission is to provide international leadership to optimize health along the U.S.-México border.  The Commission is comprised of the federal secretaries of health, the lead health officers of the ten border states, and prominent community health professionals from both nations. As a member, I help to educate folks (including policy-makers) about the unique challenges at the border through outreach efforts and conduct joint collaborative public health initiatives with public and private partners in the border health community.  The primary goal of the Arizona Delegation is to strengthen and support bi-national public health projects and programs along the Arizona-Sonora border.  

I was fortunate to be able to spend a couple of days this week for a meeting of the U.S.-Mexico Border Health Commission Arizona and Sonora Delegation Outreach Offices.  The COBINAS workshop meetings (in Magdelena de Kino, Sonora) developed community priorities and updated program developments within the binational health councils.  We’ll also be using their input as we develop our work plans through the November 7, 8 US-Mexico Border Health Commission meeting, as well as the December Arizona-Mexico Commission, and next year’s U.S.-Mexico Border Governor’s Health Worktable joint resolutions.  By the way, the 3 local COBINAS for the AZ-Sonora region are San Luis Rio Colorado, Sonora/Yuma County; Ambos Nogales; and Noreste de Sonora/Cochise County, Arizona and the Tohono O’odham Nation/Western Pima County/Sasabe, Caborca, and Sonoyta, Sonora binational community health council.