The Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs (SRE) through the Institute of Mexicans Abroad (IME) and the Consulate of Mexico in Albuquerque, and in collaboration with the Mexican Ministry of Health (SS) and The University of New Mexico Cancer Center, will host this year’s annual Ventanilla de Salud Conference. Ventanilla de Salud, also known as VDS, is an innovative partnership administered through the Mexican Consular network in the US that provides healthcare education, access and referrals. In New Mexico, the UNM Cancer Center and the Mexican Consulate have collaborated through the program to provide screening, diagnoses and treatment as well.
This year’s national conference will be held at the UNM Cancer Center from August 23rd through 25th and marks the first time that the conference will be held outside of Mexico. The strong relationship between the Mexican Consulate in Albuquerque and the Cancer Center is one reason the conference—which takes two years to organize—is being held here, according to Maria Otero, UNM Director of Community Outreach for Hispanic/Latino Programs.
The conference will feature bilingual presenters, including high-ranking Mexican Officials such as Javier Díaz de León, IME´s Executive Director, who will address current issues in harmonizing preventive health practices and provide training on specific health issues. Participants will have the “opportunity to share learning and experiences,” Ms. Otero said. The Mexican government values the VDS program, because it directly benefits the wellbeing of the Mexican and Hispanic communities nationwide in the US, said the Consul of Mexico in Albuquerque, Mauricio Ibarra.
Additionally, researchers will have the opportunity to collaborate. “We talk about future research we can do. We compare our ongoing research and look at hypothesis-driven research that we can do in the future,” says Barbara Damron, PhD, RN, FAAN, and Director of the Office of Community Partnerships & Cancer Health Disparities which manages the VDS program. Conferences like this one enable researchers from across the country to work together to study educational methods in different geographic regions across the country, for example. Already, the VDS program in New Mexico has worked with researchers in at least three other states.
Since its inception, the VDS program has reached between 10,000 and 11,000 people annually in New Mexico with potentially life-saving information and screening. “VDS plays a big part in our NCI designation because of our strong community partnerships,” Dr. Damron said. “We’re unique in that we have combined the outreach, education and partnerships with research within our communities.” The research looks into disparities in healthcare for Hispanics and Latinos in New Mexico, “so the money stays focused on that population,” Dr. Damron emphasized.
The conference organizers aim to strengthen the cooperation between health institutions and Mexican Americans as one of the best ways to improve the development opportunities of Mexicans abroad.
For more information on Ventanilla de Salud
A video on VDS is available here.
About the UNM Cancer Center
The UNM Cancer Center is the Official Cancer Center of New Mexico and the only National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated cancer center in the state. One of just 66 NCI-designated cancer centers nationwide, the UNM Cancer Center is recognized for its scientific excellence, contributions to cancer research and delivery of medical advances to patients and their families. It is home to 85 board-certified oncology physicians representing every cancer specialty and 127 research scientists hailing from prestigious institutions such as MD Anderson, Johns Hopkins and the Mayo Clinic. The UNM Cancer Center treats more than 65 percent of the adults and virtually all of the children in New Mexico affected by cancer, from every county in the state. In 2010, it provided care to more than 15,800 cancer patients. The Center’s research programs are supported by nearly $60 million annually in federal and private funding. Learn more at http://cancer.unm.edu.