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Border 2020 joins with UABC to Hold Binational Symposium: Exploring Environmental and Health Issues Associated to Zika, Dengue and Chikunguynya Viruses

Posted on December 05, 2016

Border 2020 joins with UABC to Hold Binational Symposium:  Exploring Environmental and Health Issues Associated to Zika, Dengue and Chikunguynya Viruses

Representation of U.S. and Mexican public health agencies at the event On Tuesday, September 27, a Binational Symposium was held in Mexicali, Baja California to share information and inform the public about the spread of mosquito-borne diseases such as Zika, Dengue, and Chikungunya, and to explore how a changing climate can impact the movement and propagation of vectors than can carry these diseases through the border region.

The event was held at the Autonomous University of Baja California (UABC) Health Sciences Unit, where environmental and public health officials and researchers from both sides of the border gathered to present to the public the results of various studies and research projects conducted on the Zika, Dengue, and Chikungunya viruses, the role of mosquitoes as vectors of these diseases, and climate conditions that influence their occurrence.

Dr. Julia Dolores Estrada Guzman, Dean of the UABC School of Medicine, opened the symposium by making some welcoming remarks to the special guests and general audience. She expressed her delight at having the opportunity to hold this significant event as part of the university´s 60th Anniversary celebration, not only to provide information to the community, but also for the benefit of medical students in attendance, who throughout the event showed a keen interest in the engaging work sessions.

The exciting workday included three morning plenary sessions covering regional overviews of the Zika, Dengue, and Chikungunya viruses, state overviews, and a session on climate and Health. The afternoon included three simultaneous tracks each covering a distinct theme and targeting different segments of the audience: "Vector control and vector habitats" for community members and promotores; “Information sharing, communication, and messaging” for environmental and public health officials; and “Clinical aspects, diagnosis, and treatment of mosquito-borne diseases” for doctors, nurses, and medical students. Topics were presented by experts from the United States and Mexico. Simultaneous interpretation was available for all sessions. 

The purpose of the event was to increase awareness of the health risks caused by vectors in the U.S.-Mexico border region; enhance the ability of physicians, health care providers, environmental professionals, community advocates, and the general public, to treat or mitigate vector-borne health conditions, and to facilitate networking and knowledge-sharing in an effort to advance interdisciplinary collaboration to address the issue of vector-borne diseases.

The Regional Representative of the Secretariat of the Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) in Baja California, Alfonso Blancafort, underscored the significance that preventing and treating mosquito-borne diseases has for Mexico´s federal government, especially in the most vulnerable populations, inasmuch as Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has established a mandate to protect the public against potential risks involving the spread of vectors that transmit the Zika, Dengue and Chikungunya diseases.

Jeff Scott, Land Division Director for Region 9 of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), thanked the UABC and its students, as well as the public in attendance, for their interest in studying these challenges facing both Mexico and the United States. Mr. Scott explained that this event is part of a work strategy to address environmental health issues under "Border 2020", the U.S.-Mexico environmental program, intended to mitigate the various issues impacting the environment of both nations. Scott stressed that environmental issues know no boundaries, so it is important to work as a team to overcome existing challenges.

The event was also attended by representatives of agencies such as the Baja California State Secretariat of Health (ISESALUD), California Department of Public Health, the Baja California Secretariat of Environmental Protection (SPA), the University of California – Los Angeles, Mexico´s National Center for Disease Prevention and Control Programs (CENAPRECE), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S.-Mexico Border Health Commission, San Diego County Public Health Department, the Sonoran Institute, the Border Environmental Cooperation Commission (BECC) and the National Institute of Ecology and Climate Change (INECC).

For more information on the health symposium or the Border 2020 Program, please visit: https://www.epa.gov/border2020




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