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Nataniel, NAFTA, and Public Health at the U.S.-Mexico Border


Tom Olson, College of Nursing, New York University, 246 Greene Street, 8th Floor, New York, NY 10003-6677. E-mail:


ABSTRACT Advocating overall improvements in health for individuals and communities is a daunting but important task for nurses in particular, and for health care professionals in general. This is particularly true when focusing on the population along the 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico border, a unique region in which distinct cultures, economies, and political systems meet. The purpose of this paper is to confront the assumption that trade and economic expansion automatically translate into improved public health, and to explore policy implications of the public health situation at the border. It uses a meta-narrative, an overarching story that draws on and illustrates collective stories from 300 participants in a study of mental health disparities, to argue for a more nuanced and complex understanding of health among the largely Hispanic population in this region.