The XVII Binational Health Week is in full swing and Guadalupe Sánchez Salazar, Mexican Consul for the States of Nebraska and Iowa is pleased with the disease prevention activities on offer at the office under her care, which is made possible thanks to the support of other important institutions: “The programs we offer and implement at the Consulate are for the benefit of our community, not only for Mexicans but the Latino community and the entire community in general.”
This is the third time that Consul Sanchez Salazar is leading a project to promote health in this country: “Every year in October on a national level, the Mexican consular network, following the instructions of our Secretary of Foreign Affairs and also with the very important collaboration of the Secretariat of Health, implements the Binational Health Week. This is a program that involves thousands of volunteers and hundreds of local, state and national health agencies and it, of course, involves the Health Booth of each consulate, all of which is very important for carrying out this event.”
Sanchez Salazar emphasized that all of these efforts reflect “a very noble work, which for those of us at the consulates is a high priority since, without a doubt, right from the start the work of Mexico, which date back to 2001, are the result of acknowledging the vulnerability of a large part of our population, of our immigrants who live in the United States and that on many occasions the only resource available for seeing a doctor is the Health Booth or this week’s event.”
The XVII Binational Health Week will offer courses and exams with a focus on different sectors of the population which include activities for the elderly, but also a big a focus on women since October is a month dedicated to raising awareness of breast cancer.
“What’s interesting is that we have gone past the interstate borders of Nebraska and have crossed the Missouri River to go to Council Bluffs (Iowa) for the past couple of years,” highlighted Consul Sanchez Salazar, mentioning that the Jennie Edmundson Hospital at said location will host an event for women on Thursday, October 5 from 5 to 7 p.m.
Maria Rodriguez, who is the Coordinator of the Health Booth at the Mexican Consulate in Omaha, which offers its services to all people from Monday to Friday, invited the community to participate in the two family events that will take place on Saturday October 7 from 9 am.-1 p.m. at the All Care Center (902 S 6th St., Council Bluffs, IA), as well as on Saturday October 14 from 9 am.-2 p.m. at the South facilities of the Metropolitan Community College (2909 Edward Babe Gomez Ave., Omaha, NE).
The free health services, possible thanks to the participation of the Intercultural Senior Center, the Methodist College, and OneWorld Community Health Center, go from the administration of vaccines to prevent the flu, as well as hearing and vision tests, to tests for cholesterol, glucose and sexually transmitted diseases, as well as educational workshops for women on topics such as preventing cervical cancer and human papillomavirus.
And as they get ready to say goodbye to 2017, a “very dynamic” year for the Mexican consulate, Consul Sanchez Salazar concluded by mentioning the great improvements she witnessed: “These last three years in which I’ve had the privilege of leading the Mexican Consulate in Omaha have been a very enlightening phase in many ways. We have made great breakthroughs at the Consulate, with considerable changes starting with our staff, because when I arrived in this city back in June 2014 we only had ten people working here and we now have twenty. That is a 100% increase, and we now have 20 very dedicated people who work as a team focused on serving the community.”
This has made it possible for having new processes for obtaining passports and matrículas consulares (consular registrations), to name a few, which are now considerably faster: “There have been some sensational changes regarding the process for issuing documentation. We now take the pictures and scan the paperwork by a digitalization method where we use more advanced and secure technology.”
Even though 2017 has been characterized “by presenting a somewhat adverse political context,” Sanchez Salazar and her team continue to work “because our community requires more of our presence, of our support and our programs, such as the Binational Health Week.”