LAREDO, Texas – With the current mass migration of immigrants also comes the concern of infectious diseases. The 14th annual Border Health Conference is being held in Laredo where the focus is on working together with health experts from both sides of the border and providing access to care to people along the border.
Dr. Luis Benavidez, President – Border Health Conference, “Our whole focus is to try and get our legislature and other people interested in health care. To recognize some of our problems especially some of our unique problems we see along the border.”
Perhaps at no time has this conference been more important than this year. As thousands of migrants are making their way into both Mexico and the United States. Hidalgo County Health Director Eddie Olivarez says the conference brings a pollination and exchange of ideas.
“All of a sudden you have this surge of population that comes into this country and they are getting sick from illnesses that we take for granted. From allergies and different illness that we get. Different cold types that we get. They are not use to our flora.”
Olivarez adding the increased number of infectious diseases will continue to be an issue. He says the awareness level of the public has increased and says it’s really a teamwork effort from health officials to legislators to charity groups to first responders that have answered the call.
“I think it’s time for us from both sides of the border and multiple countries to acknowledge the fact that there are a lot of unsung heroes that have saved thousands and thousands of lives every day.”
From poverty, diabetes, obesity to liver cancer, Dr. Luis Benavidez says he hopes attendees can build networks and alliances to form a united front against the unique health challenges facing both sides of the border.
“People need to be aware. People need to be informed of the importance of how things on the border are. No matter what happens on the border now, it’s going to happen to the rest of the United States. We’ve seen that before so you need to be aware of what we are doing.”
Officials at the conference are also discussing the upcoming flu season. Dr. Benavidez says the region can expect another busy flu season.