34 Network members attended to the first annual meeting of the Binational Thematic Network at Border Health, which took place in Monterrey, Nuevo León, at the Center for Research and Development in Health Sciences of the Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León, in order to formalize the formation thereof and creating committees, coordination, and working groups, under which priorities in the medium and long term, will be developed and defined, including research, academic, linking and internationalization work lines.
The welcome was given by Dr. Rogelio Zapata, Dr. Gudelia Rangel and Dr. Dora Elia Cortés, who explained the Network objectives, such as integrating capabilities of individuals and organizations in the public, private and social sector in the Border States in order to contribute to the improvement of common challenges in public health conditions at the US-Mexico border. To achieve this goal, it is required to promote binational cooperation, contribute to the creation, scientific and transfer dissemination of knowledge, as well as the development and training of human resources to promote cross-cutting links.
Finally, the Network Technical Academic Council signed the Network formalization. This council is made by Dr. Rogelio Zapata of the BHC, Dr. Gudelia Rangel of the BHC, Dr. Cecilia Rosales of the University of Arizona, Dr. María de la Luz Vázquez of the Autonomous University of Tamaulipas, Dr. Beatriz Díaz of the Autonomous University of Ciudad Juarez, and Dra. Dora Elia Cortés at the Autonomous University of Nuevo León.
Plenary and working session
At the plenary session where the structure of the Network was discussed, the creation of the first committees and people in charge is proposed, as follows:
1. Communication Committee, dissemination and relations, by the Technical Academic Council
2. Linking Committee to integrate current and other agents, by David Castañeda, Jill McDonald, and Eva Moya
3. Academic committee for training resources and other elements, by María Luisa Zúñiga and Raquel Benavides
4. Financing committee to manage resources, by Raquel Muñiz
Under the format of these committees, the working session began.
As for the communication committee, it was defined that has to publish the Research Forum 2015 report, identify and present papers for international scientific peer-reviewed journals, as well as designing a digital magazine for Border Health, in order to position itself as a journal with international impact regarding border health. In the same Communication Committee, it was proposed to assess guidelines and address health issues by reviewing the Healthy Border 2020 agenda and identify emerging health areas, as well as conducting a binational surveillance to assess the resulting disparities.
In promoting binational research, the communication committee should develop protocols to increase the use of databases and the ability of this type of research.
The academic committee will develop curriculums in Border Health for professionals, academics, and students in Health, Modules for Postgraduate Studies and diploma courses or training programs online with specialty in Border Health.
To promote mobility and exchange of young researchers and students, the academic committee should consider the possibility of facilitating exchange and transfer of knowledge across the border, as well as information from CONACYT for US institutions wishing to receive students and Mexican teachers.
As for developing leadership skills and binational strategy, the academic committee proposed to develop a similar program “Leaders across Borders” for students from undergraduate to post-doctoral in order to promote and develop young researchers excited by binational research projects.
The Linking Committee shall be charged to initiate communication, cooperation and collaboration to promote peer interaction based on projects and personal and direct relationships and not just directories or resource inventories. This goal will be achieved only if its current 37 members are used as an expansive network nodes, including their contacts and the contacts of their contacts.
To promote mobility and exchange of experts, the committee will develop protocols to increase and facilitate the exchange of experts and mobility programs and short stays for researchers in the Network, using current research projects to facilitate cooperation with relevant programs in the world and particularly with institutions in the border region.
The aim of the funding committee will be developing strategies for fundraising and financing through the formation of a Committee for the procurement of funding and to identify organizations interested in funding resources and binational projects.
Conclusion and next steps
To conclude, the Network members agreed to review the final document extracted from their work session to validate its content and to propose additions to projects when necessary. It also requires the approval of the objectives and the strategic map derived from the working session, in order to confirm the formation of committees, their actions, and main obligations, as well as their execution times and people in charge. The Technical Academic Council shall be the general coordinator of this work and responsible for all developments.