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United States and Mexico Renew Agreement on Cooperation in Health

MCALLEN, Texas, March 4 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt and the Secretary of Health of the United Mexican States, Dr. Jose Angel Cordova, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) today strengthening cross-border cooperation to address public-health, medical and scientific issues. They also plan to work together on common health problems. The two countries have a long history of collaboration in public health; the document signed today updates a MOU that began in 1996, and which the two nations last revised in 2001.

"The United States enjoys a solid friendship with Mexico, and our two nations are stronger when we work together to improve the health of our citizens," Secretary Leavitt said. "A commitment to the health and safety of our nations, and to the spirit of cooperation, provides opportunities for growth in science, cross-cultural training, health care delivery and the protection of our people."

Through the MOU, the United States and Mexico announce their intention to focus collaborative efforts on public health emergency preparedness and response; the health concerns of vulnerable groups; training; disease prevention and health promotion; and the detection, surveillance and reporting of infectious and chronic diseases.

The two secretaries signed the renewed MOU at the conclusion of the plenary session of the annual meeting of the United States-Mexico Border Health Commission held today. The Secretaries, who chair the Commission, were joined by the Commissioner of the HHS Food and Drug Administration, Dr. Andy von Eschenbach; the HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, RADM W. Craig Vanderwagen, M.D.; Maki Esther Ortiz Dominguez, Deputy Secretary for Quality and Innovation in the Mexican Federal Secretariat of Health; the Commissioner of the Mexican Federal Commission for Protection Against Sanitary Risks, Juan Antonio Garcia Villa; and representatives from the 10 U.S. and Mexican border states.

The group received briefings on the success of the 2007 Border Binational Health Week, during which health promotion events such as screenings and vaccinations reached approximately 150,000 people along the shared border, and on a binational pandemic-influenza table top exercise held in California. They also discussed progress in other areas, including the exchange of expertise on food safety, research into availability of cross-border health insurance and joint state-federal work on early-warning infectious disease surveillance. Later in the day, the Secretaries attended a forum with food growers, producers, shippers, importers and retailers for an open exchange on product safety issues in a cross-border context.

Last November, Secretaries Leavitt and Cordova signed a declaration of intent with Canada that spells out how the three countries can offer each other assistance during a public health emergency.

For more information on the MOU with Mexico, visit For more information on the United States-Mexico border health commission, visit

SOURCE U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
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