Office of Border Health


Program Operating Plan
Program or Division Name Office of Border Health (OBH)
Bureau N/A
Associateship Deputy Commissioner for Programs
Program Purpose Identify and prevent consumer, environmental, and community health hazards along the Texas-Mexico border in a bi-national effort that coordinates with local communities and U.S. and Mexican health entities.
Major Responsibilities
  • Promotes and coordinates between U.S. and Mexican health entities on public health issues of the U.S.-Mexico border
  • Acts as the Texas Outreach Office for the U.S.-Mexico Border Health Commission.
  • Informs, educates and mobilizes community partnerships with respect to colonia water/wastewater issues.
  • Diagnoses and investigates community health hazards and problems.
  • Acts as the central point of communication for the Texas Department of Health on public health issues pertaining to the Texas-Mexico border.
Population Served The population of the 32 border counties as defined by the La Paz Agreement: Brewster, Brooks, Cameron, Crockett, Culberson, Dimmit, Duval, Edwards, El Paso, Frio, Hidalgo, Hudspeth, Jeff Davis, Jim Hogg, Kenedy, Kinney, La Salle, Maverick, McMullen, Pecos, Presidio, Real, Reeves, Starr, Sutton, Terrell, Uvalde, Val Verde, Webb, Willacy, Zapata, Zavala
Contact Information Ronald J. Dutton, M.S., Ph.D.
Phone:  512-458-7675; Fax: 512-458-7262
Program website:
Location:  Tower Building, Room 602
Mailing Address:  1100 W. 49th Street, Austin, Texas 78756


Office of Border Health

Program Objectives
Fiscal Year 2003 Objectives Community Health:
  • Increase the proportion of border communities that have a health improvement plan through the Healthy Border-Healthy Gente 2010 agenda.


  • Increase the proportion of colonia residents that have adequate drinking water and sanitation facilities by providing EDAP assessments, environmental health education, and by implementing intervention models such as self-help (water and/or wastewater construction projects).

Bi-national Coordination:

  • Increase the number of active bi-national health councils along the Texas-Mexico border.
  • Develop bi-national communications by connecting the four Mexican states that border Texas through a 1-800 telephone system, electronic mail and Internet access.
  • Develop bi-national state-to-state work plans to address regional public health issues.
Services Provided/
Health Cage Safety Net Services
 Essential Public Health' Services (EPHS)
(Austin office), (regional offices), and (both) indicate where the activity takes place. ES #1: Monitor the health status individuals in the community to identify community health to identify community health problems.

OBH monitors the health status of residents of the Texas-Mexico border by preparing community heath profiles (data collection and analysis) as part of the Healthy Border-Healthy Gente 2010 initiative. (both)

ES #2: Diagnose and investigate community health problems and community health hazards.

In coordination with the TDH General Sanitation Division, OBH staff determines the risks to public health by conducting environmental assessments in accordance to Environmentally Distressed Areas Program (EDAP) guidelines. OBH also investigates use of unsafe products and nuisance complaints, as required. (regional offices)

ES #3: Inform, educate, and empower the community with respect to health issues.

Community health education on water/wastewater issues provided by OBH staff as well as promotoras (Community Health Workers - CHWs). Other health education projects are based on special and current issues (e.g., community education campaign addressing inappropriate application of methyl parathion, a restricted use pesticide and a safe drinking water project in Hidalgo County). (regional offices)

ES #4: Mobilize community partnerships in identifying and solving community health problems. OBH facilitates partnerships between entities at the international, state, and community level to address issues of the U.S.-Mexico border. OBH is working to develop Local Health Advisory Forums for setting local priorities, receiving funds, and implementing programs (both)

ES #5: Developing policies and plans that support individual and community efforts to improve health. The OBH central office focuses on inter-agency and legislative relations (i.e., Senate Subcommittee on Border Affairs and HHSC Interagency Colonias Initiative) to facilitate border health planning. OBH also works with Mexican public health officials, Sister-city Bi-national Health Councils, and local stakeholders to develop work plans to accomplish Healthy Border 2010 objectives. Particular emphasis is currently being placed on bi-national planning for bioterrorism preparedness. (both)

 Administrative Activities
Program Evaluation Performance Measures
Performance Measures: State, Border Health and Colonias; Number of citizen/community activities implemented. NON-KEY., Border Health and Colonias; Number of surveillance activities conducted. NON-KEY., Border Health and Colonias; Average number of days for surveillance activities. NON-KEY.

Performance Measures: Federal N/A
Mandate/authority Chapter 12, Subchapter F. Office of Texas-Mexico Health and Environmental Issues. Section 12.071. "The department shall establish and maintain an office in the department to coordinate and promote health and environmental issues between this state and Mexico."
Origins of program (if no mandate) N/A
Program Rules N/A
Advisory Committee or Regulatory Board N/A

Last updated September 24, 2010