Austerity at the IMSS sparks crisis

Should be government implement budget cuts to an institution that provides healthcare to those in need?

Austerity at the IMSS sparks crisis
The Mexican Social Security Institute lacks technology, materials, and enough doctors - Photo: File Photo/EL UNIVERSAL
English 22/05/2019 09:17 Mexico City Editorial Actualizada 09:24
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The Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS) is years behind. The medicine shortage, the long wait to get surgery, or the scenes showing patients laying on the floor because there aren't enough hospital beds are nothing new.

Yesterday, Germán Martínez Cázares submitted his resignation as the IMSS director and, in an unusual move in Mexican politics, the former official issued a public letter where he explained the reasons behind his resignation in detail.

Among the reasons, he mentioned the “interference” of the Finance Ministry, which ordered “savings and more savings, staff cuts, and more staff cuts.”

One of the main policies implemented by the federal government is the so-called Republican austerity. In late April, the lower chamber approved a Federal Austerity Law that eliminates special bonuses, medical insurance or special retirement schemes for public servants. No one can disagree with these measures to eliminate the privileges and squandering that characterized high-ranking officials from previous governments but it is worrying when the current administration tries to generate savings in affected departments such as health services. Public clinics and hospitals have been affected by shortages, therefore, how can they demand more savings in these institutions? At the expense of deficient services? The services are unsatisfactory already, and if the resources are cut, what more can patients expect from the IMSS?

Germán Martínez Cázares details the decay of the Social Security Institute, a situation that should be explained, either to detail specific situations or acknowledge them. In the last weeks, IMSS beneficiaries have made complaints, related to what Germán Martínez wrote in his letter, such as the lack of medicines for HIV patients. For example, two weeks ago EL UNIVERSAL documented the lack of basic materials used by nurses and doctors in Oaxaca.

Millions of IMSS users, their health and lives, could be at risk with the possible cuts implemented to the IMSS, or the lack of budget increases. Austerity can't be implemented in institutions that provide services to those who need it the most. It would be wise to allocate resources to these institutions, not implement budget cuts.


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