The California Endowment has pledged $50 million over the next five years to develop programs aimed at improving the health status of California's agricultural workers.
At a rally in Fresno, California governor Gray Davis and Mexican president Vicente Fox hailed the move as an important step in addressing a significant public policy issue and pledged to work with the Endowment to support the development of creative strategies to improve the health conditions of California's estimated one million agricultural workers.
According to California Endowment president and CEO Robert K. Ross, M.D., the multi-million-dollar commitment was prompted by the recommendations of the Endowment's Agricultural Workers Health Task Force, which was formed in response to "Suffering In Silence: A Report on the Health of California's Agricultural Workers." While the task force focused on priorities in the areas of access to care, health education and prevention, occupational health and safety, housing, and cross-border health-insurance coverage, it also recommended that the Endowment take immediate action to address the pressing heath needs of the state's agricultural workers.
"While immediate action is needed, we believe that a holistic, comprehensive and integrated approach, involving the agricultural workers and their families, must be taken in order to develop long-term solutions," explained task force chair Esteban Torres. "However, a bi-national approach to health-care coverage is equally important."