Sonia López
Executive Director
Mexican Society of Public Healthcare
/
View from the Top

Advancing Public Health Through Research, Collaboration

By Miriam Bello | Thu, 03/17/2022 - 13:05

Q: Why is the SMSP a fundamental pilar of Mexico’s health system?

A: The Mexican Society of Public Healthcare (SMSP) is a civil society founded in 1944 by medical professionals who wanted to address Mexico’s public health concerns. Our work and expertise acquired during this period through the professionals who are part of the society has granted us national and international recognition. We have become a consulting body for the government and the legislative power and are part of the General Health Council and the National Vaccination Council, among others. Part of our work with these entities is to advise on their programs or initiatives.

Q: What are SMSP’s actions, strategies and plans to strengthen public health in Mexico?

A: One of our most significant tasks has been to fight misinformation during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. We have kept in constant communication with media outlets to provide expert opinions and data to inform the public of the pandemic’s ongoing status and epidemiological course.

We also work alongside the Communications Council to spread the word on the value of vaccination and other public health matters regarding diagnosis, preventive care, and healthcare in general. One of our goals is to provide easy-to-understand information, limiting the number of scientific terms so that people are less intimidated and less likely to turn to unreliable sources.

Q: How does the SMSP perceive the change from Seguro Popular to INSABI?

A: Planning should be the basis of all change, especially in the health sector. Seguro Popular had a clear operating framework, goals and targets. INSABI on the other hand was developing these targets and frameworks as the change was taking place. This situation does not generate trust in the population and among experts.

Seguro Popular was a financer similar to medical insurance. INSABI is supposed to work similarly but as its framework is unclear, it is still unknown what services it covers. What is clear is that its health services and supplies are lacking. 

Another barrier, and not just for INSABI, is the inability of public institutes to communicate with each other. This duplicates expenses for the government as individuals can be beneficiaries of two institutes at once. 

Q: What are your efforts on collaborative research projects and what other projects is SMSP working on?

A: We translate clinical research results and scientific evidence into public policy initiatives. We ally with actors from the public and private sector that are seeking to promote the same health agenda.

At this moment we are working on different projects, some of them, training for dengue care, a consortium of coagulopathies together with other associations and the social determinants of health for chronic diseases, among others. The latter are research projects to identify the latent needs of the population. Finally, we help states or groups address their needs. For example, we developed a quality certification in Nayarit in conjunction with state officials to retrain and retrain professionals in hospital quality after identifying a skills gap. Also, together with the nurses, we developed a public health certification course to keep them updated. These certifications are competitively priced, making them accessible to more people. We also support campaigns to prevent teenage pregnancy by translating the material into indigenous languages ​​to reach this segment of the population, these are examples of the activities that we develop in the Society

Q: What could be the role of tech in developing Mexico’s public health sector?

A: Digitalization has been delayed by the lack of national regulation, which is needed in many areas, such as telemedicine, a booming area that will likely remain a significant tool for medical practices. The Ministry of Health, IMSS, ISSSTE and some state public health institutes also practice and promote telemedicine.

Regulation and tools such as electronic clinical records (ECR) could unify the sector, save costs, and improve efficiency. Tech aims to improve the sector greatly, but it is advancing quickly. Regulation needs to follow so more actors and patients can begin actively integrating it.

Cultural resistance is another factor delaying tech adoption. While the entire sector uses tech to some extent, from logistics to doctors, cultural resistance is not letting tech provide the quality improvement it is capable of.

Q: What are SMSP’s efforts regarding public-private collaboration for public health matters?

A: An example of public-private collaboration is our work on vaccination and the universal vaccination program for children. We recently brought together a group of experts from both sectors from all over the country to respond to a survey on childhood vaccination schedules and their updating. Based on their results, we create a public policy recommendation that is supported by both parties. This is important since the guidelines of the universal vaccination program were recently modified, where the National Vaccination Council was not convened, and certain vaccination recommendations were modified, from the point of view of Public SALHealth, it has been shown that the inclusion of diverse decision makers leads to better solutions, but this is not the approach in this case.

 

 

The Mexican Society of Public Healthcare (SMSP) seeks to influence the health of the Mexican population with strategies for health promotion, disease control, advocacy for social and health problems of vulnerable groups, as well as promoting professional development in health with meeting and exchange forums between the different professionals.

Miriam Bello Miriam Bello Senior Journalist and Industry Analyst