February 4, 2005

Fronteras Unidas Pro Salud: a top quality, low priced health alternative for Tijuana

By Luis Alonso Pérez

Good health is a cornerstone of a prosperous society. In Mexico, like in most up-and-coming Latin American countries, government operated health services are going through such a severe crisis that some people fear their inevitable collapse. The Mexican Institute of Social Security is now incapable of living up to the revolutionary ideals that lead to its creation: Complete high quality health care for every affiliated Mexican worker and his family at a fair price.

On the other hand, private health services are expensive enough to be considered out of reach for most workers earning minimum wage leaving hard working Mexicans with no other choice than waiting for several hours outside government hospitals for a doctor appointment.

In 1988 the collaboration between the Mexican Foundation for Planed Parenthood and Planed Parenthood of San Diego & Riverside Counties, resulted in the creation of a binational non-profit health organization now called Fronteras Unidas Pro Salud (united borders pro-health). Their mission is to provide top quality basic medical attention and health services at low costs.

For Fronteras Unidas Pro Salud (FUPS) reproductive health is among their top priorities. They believe that if the number of children per family decreases, there will be an improvement in the family’s quality of life, so every child can have a better health and education. They recently inaugurated a new health clinic capable of providing reproductive and sexual health care, cervix cancer detection and birth control surgical procedures, as well as regular health care and checkups.

The medical experience acquired throughout 17 years of community work, has allowed the FUPS staff to develop complete checkup packages at low prices. For example, a male adult can have a checkup called “Healthy man package”, which includes Diabetes, cholesterol, artery pressure and prostate cancer exams; tetanus and diphtheria shots and family planning counseling for 120 pesos (11 US Dlls.). Because they are a non profit organization, contributions and donations, along with the low fees, keep the clinic operating and expanding, yet the costs are much lower than private health care’s.

Many people don’t even have time or money to go to the clinic, the organization operates eight community clinics in some of the poorest most isolated neighborhoods in Tijuana. These clinics serve more than 18 thousand people every year.

But their community work goes beyond health care and checkups. Sexual and reproductive education is a key priority for FUPS, so they have developed various programs and campaigns to meet the population’s educative needs. In order to reach out to the most people possible, staff members have developed a sexual education training course aimed specially at teachers from all school levels, this way the trainees will become trainers and spread the information to the population that needs it most: youth.

Their special concern for youth has turned into a program called “Gente Joven”, a very complete sexual education program, combined with psychological support. A special part of the clinic is dedicated to this program, and it has resulted in a comfortable multi use room where young ones can feel comfortable during their lessons and relax during their free time, with books to read, internet ready computers and even videogames.

Another important program is called “community health promoters”, which trains and organizes a large group of people that work in their “colonias”, visiting their neighbors door by door and offering information booklets about family planning and sexual health. They also sell preservatives and contraceptives at very low prices. The “Industrial Program” is a reproductive and sexual education program aimed at workers from local Maquiladoras that can be adapted to meet a company’s specific needs. It can be done through a series of classes, a conference or a stand, in an internal health expo, just to name a few possibilities.

Through years of hard work, Fronteras Unidas Pro Salud’s community labor has been greatly recognized by the people of Tijuana, awarded by the Mexican government and international organizations like the United Nations. Still, like in most non-profit organizations, donations are a key to their operation. If you wish to support this non-profit association or wish to visit the clinic in Tijuana please call FUPS Tel: 011 52 (664) 607 16 82. For more information about the Fronteras Unidas Pro Salud organization visit their web site www.pro-salud.org.

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