March 7, 2021

Universal and free coverage system in Mexico is utopia, says expert

The system of universal and free health coverage for Mexico proposed by the Government of Andrés Manuel López Obrador is a "utopia," said Jairo Restrepo, an economist at the University of Antioquia, in Medellín, Colombia.

There is a contradiction in López Obrador's proposal because at the same time that the announcement of universality persists, the strong influence of the finance ministry also implies a cut in resources, Restrepo said.

"In fact, we could see that the director of the Mexican Institute of Social Security (IMSS) resigned when he saw that the Treasury had a very strong interference in its decisions," he added.

"This shows us that this path is unfeasible," said the expert during his participation in the Roche Press Day 2019, in which specialists report on the latest advances in health in Latin America.

He said that such a promise to achieve universal and free health coverage in this sexennium is "populism, since it promises people something that they will not be able to fulfill," he insisted.

Restrepo explained that Mexico is one of the examples of fragmented health systems in Latin America and trying to integrate it is not only increasingly difficult "but is rather impossible in the short and medium term."

He said that to the extent that officials understand, they will have to explain to López Obrador what the possibilities are for improving the Mexican health system.

The specialist stressed that one of the options is to learn how good institutions like the IMSS have, which serves a large part of Mexicans, and how to extend this to the rest of the population.

He explained that, from his perspective, the current government has a misconception to erase what has happened, "he does not know, he thinks that the world has just started and that is a big mistake in public policy".

Restrepo recommended establishing a graduality to transform the Mexican health system and build on what was built to "see what is good about popular insurance, for example, rescue it, project it and strengthen it".

The expert said that one of the successes has been to fight corruption, however, it must be understood as a phenomenon that consists in misusing the entrusted power.

"However, this does not only happen because of the diversion of resources, but also because of favoritism, such as the bad exercise of conflicts of interest," he said.

Finally, he said that it is essential that not only Mexico, but all countries in Latin America build codes of integrity and good governance but "not as a mere speech, but as a practice".

In the same way, he pointed out that citizen participation is important because "an informed, empowered society is needed that is capable of punishing the corrupt".

(tagsToTranslate) System (t) coverage (t) universal (t) free (t) Mexico

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