Starting on Jan. 1, 2022, Mexico’s Ministry of Health will adopt the new International Classifications of Diseases (CIE-11) and will recognize pain not only as a symptom of other diseases or injuries but as a disease itself, for which the general public will be able to receive diagnoses and treatments.
The inclusion of chronic pain as its own disease is one of the most important aspects of the CIE-11, as in Mexico alone there are around 30 million Mexicans dealing with chronic pain according to María del Rocío Guillén Núñez, President, Mexican Association for the Study and Treatment of Pain (AMETD). CIE-11 separates chronic pain into seven groups: primary chronic pain, chronic pain due to cancer, post-traumatic or post-operative chronic pain, neuropathic chronic pain, orofacial and migraine pain, chronic visceral pain and musculoskeletal pain. The previous classification, CIE-10, was published in 1990 and included 14,400 different codes for health problems. CIE-11 includes more than 55,000.
Dr. Guillén Núñez explains that over 30 percent of the country’s population over 40 years of age experiences some version of chronic pain, which is a global public health issue that is often not treated or managed in the way other epidemics like diabetes and obesity are. However, Guillén Núñez asserts that proper palliative care must be given to patients who need it and that improvement starts with the Ministry of Health’s recognition of chronic pain as a disease.
During the XL International Congress for Pain and Palliative Care organized by AMETD, Guillén Núñez revealed that of the country’s more than 12,000 hospitals, only 117 currently offer clinics for pain treatment and 335 offer palliative care. However, only 64 percent have committees dedicated to organizing and programing actions on the matter, 43 percent performs visits to patients’ homes and 63 percent provides external consultations. Only one third offers services through the phone, severely limiting health services to individuals who cannot travel due to geographic or economic reasons.
AMETD previously published findings on the lack of care for chronic pain patients in the country as Mexico has one of the lowest numbers in Latin America for medical professionals who treat these ailments. Moreover, there is a lack of access to opioid analgesics to treat pain in hospice care.
According to Guillén Núñez, patients with chronic pain are often turned away by medical professionals minimizing their symptoms. Chronic pain is harder to diagnose as it is connected to failures in the nervous system causing erroneous transmissions and receptions of pain. But with the inclusion of these seven different types of chronic pain into the ministry, individuals suffering from different levels of chronic pain will be able to receive better professional treatment, medicine and handicapped benefits.