New Program Will Ease Healthcare Access for Mexican-Americans in Alaska

Photo by Ellen Lockyer. Hector Mendoza and Melanie Santos from La Senora de Guadalupe Parish Mexican Folklore Group

Photo by Ellen Lockyer. From left: Francisco Javier Diaz de Leon (Institute of Mexicans Abroad), Mexican Consul Javier Abud-Osuna, Dr. Jose Angel Cordova Villalobos (Mexican Secretary of Health) and George Vikalis (Municipality of Anchorage)

Ventana means “window” in the Spanish language, and on Monday, a window opened up in Alaska for Mexicans in our state to receive improved health care through a Mexican government program called Ventanilla de Salud. The program aims to facilitate Mexican-American access to health care in the U.S. through advice, referrals and free or low cost preventative care.

Anchorage-based Mexican consul Senor Javier Abud joined with city officials and Mexico’s Secretary of Health, Doctor Jose Angel Cordova in cutting the ribbon to mark the opening of the health window during a brief ceremony Monday morning.

Dr. Cordova says this most recent program, one of 47 the U.S., is paid for by the Mexican government.  The focus is on preventative health care.

The Ventanilla de Salud program works both ways, Dr. Cordova says, providing health services for Mexican migrants and for their ‘ families that remain back in Mexico. After a pilot study over the past year, he says, the service is ready to formally begin in Alaska.

The University of Alaska is working on a needs assessment study.

Francisco Javier Diaz de Leon is the Executive Director of the Institute of Mexicans Abroad, an arm of the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs which works to establish a connection with Mexicans living outside their native country. He says 98 percent of all Mexican migrants live in the U.S., and many of them do not understand that the U.S. does not have socialized health care, as in Mexico.

The Institute works with agencies within the Mexican government to develop policies to help Mexicans outside Mexico.

Diane Ingle, director of Anchorage’s Health and Human Services Department, says the Ventanilla de Salud provides the city with a microcosm to test out how to better help underserved populations within the city. The Consulate of Mexico is providing the municipality with $25,000 to pay for both outreach events and for a part time employee who will work with the program in the consulate.

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