20 | JUL | 2019
The collapse of Mexico's public health system
Peña Nieto's administration left hundreds of hospitals unfinished or useless - Photo: Edward Hernández/EL UNIVERSAL

The collapse of Mexico's public health system

29/05/2019
09:21
Mexico City
Editorial
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López Obrador revealed that a hospital in Ciudad Juárez was inaugurated back in 2015 by local authorities while it was under construction

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Mexico's public health system began decaying a long time ago, although it worsened in recent years. A 2016 analysis from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) placed Mexico as the third country that allocated the least resources to health among the nations that are part of the OECD: 5.8% from the total budget, compared to other nations who allocate 9% on average.

Besides an insufficient budget, the resources previously disbursed in the sector weren't used efficiently and the current panorama couldn't be more devastating. A clear piece of evidence is the 326 hospitals and medical units Enrique Peña Nieto's administration invested in. According to an inspection carried out by the current federal government, 160 of those hospitals can't be used because they represent a risk to society, as they present structural failures or weren't well planned since the beginning. The construction of at least 123 medical units and 37 hospitals will be halted.

From the total of hospitals and medical units that were being built and that were inherited to López Obrador's administration, only 13 of them show 80% progress in the construction process, meanwhile, only three are completed and will be inaugurated soon.

The diagnosis of the pending projects left unfinished by the previous administration should be explained. For example, the construction of the IMSS General Hospital in Ciudad Acuña, Coahuila, began in 2017 and was expected to operate in 2019 but the construction shows a 26% progress; the previous government invested MXN $551 million in the project. At this rate, it could take another six years to finish it.

Nevertheless, this practice wasn't exclusive to the federal government. In August 2018, as President-elect, López Obrador revealed that a hospital in Ciudad Juárez was inaugurated back in 2015 by local authorities while it was under construction and only the facade was finished.

The most productive, politically and electorally, issue for federal, state, and municipal governments is the health investment and the construction of hospitals. That seemed to be the strategy followed by the previous administration: grandiloquent advertisements announced the projects, which were almost never completed. The projects were used for political purposes and once they benefited, completing the constructions wasn't a priority. There is very little distance between these practices and corruption.

Reverting the shortcoming in the health system is a huge challenge, therefore, it is necessary to analyze if more hospitals are needed or if the ones Mexico has need more staff, equipment, and maintenance. The beneficiaries shouldn't wait for a more efficient service anymore.
 

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