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Mexico’s health diplomacy and the Ventanilla de Salud program

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Operating out of all Mexican consulates in the United States, the Ventanilla de Salud (VdS) program provides patients with health information, counseling, and referrals to available local health services. This article deals with the emergence of the VdS as the main component of Mexico’s strategy to promote the health of its citizens abroad. This form of outreach arose in the context of existing efforts by the Mexican government to cultivate its relations with the Mexican diaspora. However, the VdS originated as a project of Latino advocacy organizations and philanthropic donors in the United States, with the Mexican government joining in at the behest of the project leaders. The pilot phase of the VdS program demonstrated to the Mexican government the importance and feasibility of opening up the consular space to local health promotion partners, paving the way for the expansion of the VdS program nationwide and broadening the scope of the health-related activities of the Mexican government.

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  1. The Clinton administration established the US–Mexico Border Health Commission in 1994 to address public health issues that affect the United States–Mexico border populations.

  2. The California-Mexico Health Initiative was a governmental–academic–community partnership established at the University of California, Berkeley, in 2001 to increase immigrants’ access to health care programs and reduce health disparities. Its geographic focus has broadened and is now known as the Health Initiative of the Americas.

  3. Medical homes are primary health care locales where patients can consistently obtain comprehensive, team-based, and coordinated medical services.

  4. The Healthy Kids program offered full-scope health benefits to children up to 19 years of age with family incomes up to 300% of the federal poverty level, regardless of immigration status, for children not eligible for the Healthy Families or Medi-Cal programs.


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A Junior Faculty Award at the University of North Carolina funded this research. Many thanks to all the generous interviewees who shared their experiences with me; to Tom Ross, Jeannie Weaver, Dolores Estrada, and Elizabeth Tabita for helping me navigate the archives of the California Endowment; and to Nancy Berlinger, Beatrix Hoffman, Florence Siman, and my colleagues in the UNC/Duke Migration, Gender, and Health Working Group for their questions, comments, and encouragement.

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Correspondence to Raúl Necochea López.

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Necochea López, R. Mexico’s health diplomacy and the Ventanilla de Salud program. Lat Stud 16, 482–502 (2018).

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