While individuals of Mexican origin are the largest immigrant group living in the U.S., this population is also the highest uninsured. Health disparities related to access to health care, among other social determinants, continue to be a challenge for this population. In an effort to address these disparities and improve the quality of life of citizens living abroad, the government of Mexico has partnered with governmental and non-governmental health-care organizations in the U.S. by developing and implementing an initiative known as Ventanillas de Salud — Health Windows — (VDS).
[Photo: Dr. Cecilia Rosales]
The VDS is located throughout the Mexican Consular network and aim to increase access to health care and health literacy, provide health screenings, and promote healthy lifestyle choices among low-income and immigrant Mexican populations in the U.S.
Researchers from the University of Arizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public, the Secretaría de Salud de México, and colleagues reviewed the VDS program. The findings are published in Frontiers in Public Health.
The VDS is the result of collaborative efforts between two federal agencies within the Mexican Government — Ministry of Health and Ministry of Foreign Affairs — working in partnership and cooperatively with U.S. governmental and non-governmental health-care organizations that provide the available and needed services. Currently, the government of Mexico provides monetary and in-kind resources to support the program in its entirety. These resources are in turn leveraged by the organizations, foundations, and local sponsors of each VDS. For example, federally qualified community health centers located throughout the U.S. provide primary and secondary prevention services on a sliding fee scale.
The data presented correspond to clients accessing services at the 50 VDS during 2013. Each client completed a standardized form upon accessing services at one of the 50 VDS. The standardized form included a series of questions on demographics, history of access to medical services, personal medical history, anthropometric measurements, services rendered, referrals made, screening tests, and results. This information was collected by health promotores at each of the 50 VDS.
The number of clients accessing services from the 50 VDS between January and December 2013 totaled 1,182,760, of which 225,058 (19 percent) were provided by the mobile VDS. A snapshot of VDS participants shows the greatest number of users is within the reproductive age, with 34 percent between ages of 36 and 45 followed by 26- and 35-year olds with 29 percent. In addition, 63 percent of VDS users are women while 37 percent are men. While the VDS program does not inquire about immigration status, demographics on country of origin show users to be predominantly from Mexico and Latin America followed by Caribbean countries and territories. Languages reported include Spanish, English, and indigenous languages to Mexico and Latin America.
The article “Ventanillas de Salud: A Collaborative and Binational Health Access and Preventive Care Program” was published June 30 in Frontiers in Public Health.