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NMSU assists with health impact assessment program in the U.S.-Mexico border region

New Mexico State University has partnered with the University of Texas at El Paso and other community organizations to conduct a health impact assessment program in the United States-Mexico border region. The two-year project was developed to foster capacity in the area to conduct health impact assessments and to encourage their use as a way to evaluate the possible health effects of proposed infrastructure improvements or policy changes.

UTEP?s Center for Environmental Resources Management is leading the project and working in conjunction with not only NMSU?s College of Health and Social Services but also the Border Environment Cooperation Commission, Pan American Health Organization, South Central Regional Transportation District of New Mexico and city of Presidio, Texas. UTEP created the project after it received a $250,000 grant from the Health Impact Program, a collaboration of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts.

This project has three areas of focus including health impact assessment training for students at both NMSU and UTEP; a health impact assessment centered on plans to expand public bus transportation from Las Cruces to the surrounding areas of Anthony, Chaparral, Santa Teresa and Sunland Park; and producing and testing a model for evaluating health impacts of water and sanitation in border communities utilizing the example of the Las Pampas colonia, near Presidio.

?We?re particularly interested in how additional transportation options and routes would affect access to health care and how it would benefit other potential health indicators with more access to greater fruits and vegetables, better supermarket options and farmer?s markets,? said Joe Tomaka, director of NMSU?s Survey Research and Program Evaluation Center. ?What we are hoping to identify is what are the best routes, what would be the best places to put stations so that people would use and maximize the service.?

NMSU?s contribution will involve conducting research through the on-campus Survey Research and Program Evaluation Center.

?NMSU?s primary involvement is going to be in conducting surveys in these areas,? Tomaka said. ?We will be convening focus groups and surveys in these areas to find out the likelihood of using the routes and where the best locations would be for them.?

Tomaka said the surveys are still in the planning phase with both content and methodology to be determined. Students will be involved in the interviewing process, data collection and statistical analysis for the health impact assessment.

For more information on health impact programs visit www.healthimpactproject.org.