FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 25, 2001
AUSTIN, TX--State Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., (D-Brownsville) announced today that he plans to officially ask President George W. Bush for his assistance in addressing a critical public health issue along the Border region.
"At this moment, our health care professionals in Texas and the Texas Department of Health cannot receive information from physicians in Mexico, nor from the Mexican Department of Health, on diseases that plague both sides of the Rio Grande River," said Sen. Lucio. "The issue is that health professionals in Mexico cannot share medical information with their counterparts in Texas because Mexican law prohibits this exchange of information. This greatly impacts our efforts to address and treat diseases, such as dengue fever and multi-drug resistant Tuberculosis."
During the interim period, the Special Committee on Border Affairs first addressed this issue in their Border Health Report. In its report, the Committee wrote,
"States that border Mexico, and physicians on both sides of the Border, need to be given the necessary tools and allowed to share information to address the unique health problems along our region."
The committee also reported that the estimated 1.6 million daily average crossings of the Border, exceeding 400 million annually, have "serious public health ramifications, particularly in the six sister-cities of El Paso/Juarez, Del Rio/Acuna, Eagle Pass/Piedras Negras, Laredo/Nuevo Laredo, McAllen/Reynosa, and Brownsville/Matamoros."
The report further stated that while there are provisions in NAFTA addressing environmental infrastructure issues between the United States and Mexico, there are no such provisions explicitly addressing public health concerns along the border.
"Through the Senate Resolution that we are drafting, we will be asking Congress and President Bush to fully address this issue in cooperation with the country of Mexico," added Chairman Lucio.
NOTE: Staff member assigned to this issue is Ms. Bridget Sharphorn, clerk for the Subcommittee on Border Affairs.