Home > colonias, environmental justice, US-Mexico border > NYT Article – Tropical Disease and Poverty in the US

NYT Article – Tropical Disease and Poverty in the US

A recent New York Times Op-Ed (August 18, 2012) described the rise in “tropical diseases” among the nation’s poor. Surprise! The example used to illustrate this trend was in south Texas. And while the specifics were not clear, the description and photo suggest that it was referring to one of the colonias of Cameron County.

I embrace the author’s diagnosis that links poverty and poor health, and I agree that the current problems undermine the future generations’ capacity for educational (and thus, economic and social) advancement. Finally, someone does not explain this by invoking “immigration” as cause, but poverty. Indeed, I second the outrage expressed by the author. But at the same time, the narrow and technocratic solutions do not address the root causes of this “new plague.” Rather than surveillance or vaccines, how about raising the quality of housing in the communities hardest hit, providing better sanitation infrastructure and environmental health. Interventionist and technocratic solutions simply obfuscate the social and political issues around poverty and the increasing incidences of tropical diseases. If poverty is the problem, then perhaps that is where our attention needs to be.

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