Mexico: a call for convergence
“As Mexicans we must be prepared for a new stage of our country’s development”. These were the inspiring words of newly elected Mexican President Peña Nieto, who has promised to transform Mexico into a competitive global power. As the world’s thirteenth largest economy, there is no question that Mexico has outgrown its status as a low-income developing nation. Nevertheless, the country has disappointed in the rate of its development considering that more than 40% of its citizens are still defined as poor. With such indicators, it comes as no surprise that the country’s provision of healthcare is still a work in progress.
For the last decade Mexico has made healthcare a priority and a right of all its citizens. With the introduction of universal coverage in 2004, known as the Seguro Popular, the country has been moving to increase healthcare access and improve the quality of service. To do this, the government has vowed to augment health expenditures from 6.4% of GDP to 10%. This is certainly a welcome move given that currently Seguro Popular only budgets around USD$200 per patient per year. Money alone, however, will not fix the fragmented nature of the Mexico’s current healthcare system, which varies widely in terms of quality from state to state.
Indeed, the greatest challenge at the moment is defining an effective structure that will efficiently incorporate all of the actors relevant to the healthcare sector. Only once this has been achieved will true efficiencies emerge and access be enhanced. This will be reflected in a reduction of waiting times, a decrease in overall costs and an increase in the quality of service. Currently, there are constant reports of mismanaged funds and insufficient resources. Greater transparency must be created so that states and healthcare institutions become accountable for the money they are granted by the federal government.
A predominating opinion amongst experts is that Mexico’s healthcare must be rearranged under the scope of convergence. The idea is that the patient should become the focal point of all actors, who must understand their role in the healthcare ecosystem in a holistic manner. Rather than simply playing an individual part, it is essential for all actors to understand how their contributions affect the wider system and how they can better interact with other players to improve their services. This includes coordinating the activities of the public, private and not-for profit sectors with the final aim of creating an integrated system.
Undoubtedly, convergence of wills should happen before convergence of actions. This is why raising awareness and rallying all actors around a core objective – the patient – is crucial.