Private hospitals will treat patients who cannot fit into public hospitals to deal with the coronavirus in Mexico.”Todos juntos contra el COVID-19″ (“All together against COVID-19“) is the name of the public-private agreement signed by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador on Monday, April 13.
AMLO took away funding from the public health system
This coalition has highlighted the fact that the private sector can manage resources more efficiently than the government. When this vital service is in the hands of the private sector, it saves the state budget (and therefore, the taxpayers), and the funds can be used for patient care.
In the first month of López Obrador’s administration, 24 of the 31 Mexican states reported medicine and staff shortages following the 44% cut in the health budget. As part of his austerity plan, AMLO cut 350 million Mexican pesos (18.5 million USD at the time) from the budget of the Mexican Social Security Institute. However, he dedicated that same amount to the promotion of baseball.
“People are going to die in the streets,” predicted Germán Martínez, director of the Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS). He resigned in May, declaring his refusal to fire more doctors. Medical staff in some states was reduced by 50% following the abrupt budget cuts.
The ones most affected are HIV patients (antiretrovirals required by immunodeficiency patients have been reduced by 50%), newborn babies, babies in the womb, children with cancer (especially infants).
Given that 80% of those who died from coronaviruses in Europe already had a chronic health problem, the current situation of the sick in Mexico could become worse.
In fact, like European nations such as France and Italy, which have high mortality rates, Mexico is following the same pattern after 45 days from its first detection of COVID-19.
Testing in Mexico is negligible relative to its population
About 5,014 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed through more than 36,000 diagnostic tests carried out in the country. However, the Mexican government estimates that the number of cases may be 8.2 times higher, at about 38,200 infections.
The number of tests carried out in Mexico is low in proportion to its population. South Korea, for example, has conducted as many tests in three days as Mexico has in more than six weeks.
The northern neighbor, the United States, has already carried out more than a million tests. While the U.S. has over 328 million people and Mexico 126 million, Mexico’s test figures nevertheless remain negligible in proportion to its population.
The number of gunshot victims due to violence in Mexico has overwhelmed hospital capacity
Violence in Mexico has been another aggravating factor in the collapse of the health system. Although AMLO claims that “neoliberalism” aggravated the violence in Mexico, under his administration, the nation lived through the most violent year in its history, surpassing 100 homicides per day.
And this has impacted the health care system. For example, at Tijuana General Hospital (HGT), a baby died because all 28 beds in the emergency room were occupied by gunshot victims, including criminals who were neutralized by security forces.
Private hospitals will provide 50% of their beds to facilitate the treatment of patients with coronavirus
It is precisely to avoid the saturation of the public health system that AMLO reached an agreement whereby private hospitals would use 50% of the beds (3,115 beds). This agreement will go into effect on April 23rd and remain applicable until May 23rd to deal with the COVID-19.
According to Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard, the transfer will be provided at no additional cost to patients. Further, 12,500 patients from public institutions, (who do not have coronavirus), will be able to use these beds.
Mario González Ulloa, president of the National Association of Private Hospitals, said that this agreement of “substitute provision” will allow the national health system to focus on the care of those affected by the pandemic.
An “unprecedented” public-private partnership by an administration characterized by state monopolies
AMLO called this coalition “unprecedented,” and he is right. So fat, AMLO’s administration has been characterized by the constant obstruction of any private initiative.
For example, instead of receiving eight billion dollars from an external investment in the Dos Bocas refinery, López Obrador canceled the bidding and kept the construction of the oil refinery under the state monopoly of the already bankrupt Pemex.
Thus, Mexicans are wasting their taxes to finance a bureaucratic institution that generates losses in the millions, all because the president denied it access to the private sector.
123 clinics and 37 hospitals were evacuated
Meanwhile, Health Secretary Jorge Alcocer said that eight billion pesos are required to rescue 326 unfinished hospitals and medical units from the administration of former President Enrique Peña Nieto.
In the first year of López Obrador’s government, 123 clinics and 37 public hospitals were evacuated. Given the lack of functional public hospitals, AMLO reached an agreement with 146 private hospitals in 27 states to house patients from the Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS) and the Institute of Social Security and Services for State Workers (ISSSTE).
The public-private partnership provided treatment to millions in the United States
In short, when the state is in charge of the resources extracted from the citizens through taxes, it has the power to allocate them, both to the sport of preference of its president and to the service of a bankrupt state company such as Pemex, as has been the case so far under AMLO’s administration.
Therefore, when López Obrador finally recognizes the importance and efficiency of the private sector and allows it to do its work, it is not only helpful but actually saves lives.
The popular saying is, “Every cloud has a silver lining.” In the case of Mexico, the coronavirus pandemic led the Mexican president to recognize the contribution of the private sector in health matters.
If it follows that trend, it could enjoy enormous benefits, including economic ones, as it would take a burden off the government, and therefore off the taxpayers. As was the case in the United States, where the private sector has provided the country not only with rapid diagnostic tests but also the pharmaceutical companies Bayer and Novartis have donated millions of medical treatments to alleviate the impact of the coronavirus.
It was possible because Donald Trump expedited the authorization processes so that bureaucracy would not be an impediment. The opposite of what happens in Mexico, where there are medicines that are trapped in customs due to excessive regulations that lead to the deterioration of the health of the most vulnerable Mexicans.