José Reyes
Director General
View from the Top

Campaigning for Better Health

Wed, 09/06/2017 - 11:58

Q: In addition to health services, ISSSTE works on prevention through public awareness campaigns. Which areas are key targets?

A: We have a number of ongoing campaigns. One such campaign relates to addiction prevention, particularly smoking, and targets young people through courses, conferences, personnel training, graphic information and social media. We are also drafting several campaigns against overweight and obesity and their related conditions, which have a profound effect on quality of life and on the federal budget. Twenty percent of ISSSTE’s health-allocated funds were used to raise awareness of diabetes, overweight and obesity, hypertension and cervicouterine, breast, prostate and colon cancer. ISSSTE’s annual budget amounts to MX$45 billion (US$2.5 billion) and we are spending MX$10 billion (US$555 million) or more just on these diseases.

Among specific programs, the Salud en tu Escuela (Health in your School) campaign is focused on young people and on the children of beneficiaries who su er from overweight and obesity. This is a joint e ort between players in the public health and educational spheres, such as the Ministry of Public Education (SEP) and the National Education Workers’ Union (SNTE). Integrating teachers as health promoters and developing permanent awareness and physical exercise campaigns are key objectives that will enable ISSSTE to evaluate the results at each school in the program. The effort will include physicians, nurses and some students from ISSSTE’s School of Nutrition and Dietetics. The ISSSTE en tu Dependencia (ISSSTE in your District) program is focused on monitoring the health of employees. ISSSTE has identified about 570,000 diabetics among its beneficiaries. Another campaign targets breast cancer across public health institutions. We integrated 25 new mammography machines into our facilities and we are finishing a new diagnosis center in one of our hospitals. Between 2016 and 2018, ISSSTE’s goal is to triple the number of mammographies from between 110,000 and 115,000 to 350,000. ISSSTE is raising awareness among women between 25 and 69 years old. Although we have reduced the prevalence of cervicouterine cancer and the related mortality rate, the same cannot be said for breast cancer. We named February Men’s Health Month because men are less likely to visit a physician than women: 63 percent of first-time doctor’s appointments are women.

Q: On the business side, what are the advantages of building hospitals through PPP schemes?

A: ISSSTE has an infrastructure program and fiscal resources but, due to budget adjustments, we have had to vary our financing to continue building and expanding hospitals and clinics. We needed to migrate to a new scheme involving the private sector. ISSSTE invested over MX$4 billion (US$222 million) last year in building and expanding a number of clinics and hospitals. We have analyzed several new hospital projects in Tampico, Acapulco, Oaxaca and Mexico City and there are also some requests for new hospitals in San Luis Potosi and Sonora. There is a PPP hospital being built in Merida and three others to be tendered: Mexico City-Tlahuac, Villahermosa and Tepic. We estimate that in this federal government administration’s remaining time, investments from PPP schemes could total about MX$14 billion (US$777 million).

Q: What criteria helps ISSSTE to decide where a new hospital or clinic will be built?

A: The location of beneficiaries and public health infrastructure are the key criteria. The Ministry of Health, ISSSTE and IMSS have developed a strategy that prevents duplication, so if there is an IMSS hospital in a community with an ISSSTE clinic and someone at the latter needs surgery, hemodynamics or cardiovascular services, these will be subrogated to the IMSS hospital. Services will also be subrogated from IMSS to ISSSTE, which does not mean implementing a universalization program but exchanging services and prioritizing cities and states according to the demand for health services and the existing public infrastructure. All public-sector agencies need to maintain a close relationship. We also have collaboration and service- exchange schemes between both public and private entities.