Health Realities from North to SouthBy Miriam Bello | Mon, 03/22/2021 - 17:58
Mexico has clear health realities, including high obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease rates. Regionally, however, the country faces particular challenges related to the diverse realities of the population. The disparity between the north and the south of the country drove the current administration to design a National Health Plan that will focus first on the southeast of the country. Previous administrations have also tried to prioritize the Mexican southeast, specifically targeting mental health issues.
The importance of the southeast was born from the general health inequality seen between the north and the south of Mexico. Socioeconomic, residency, gender, origin and ethnicity conditions have widened the health access gap in the southeast. Chiapas, Guerrero and Oaxaca are Mexico’s poorest states and according to a research study made by the Ministry of Health, poverty is the largest inequality generator. Meanwhile, Mexico’s richest states are Nuevo Leon, Baja California and Coahuila, the map above portrays poverty on the different states of the country, where poverty rates go from 70.0 to 20.0. This study also found that the maternal mortality rate (MMR) is higher in municipalities with a higher poverty concentration. Nationally, the average stands at 21.91 deaths per 100,000 live births, while in poorer municipalities the average stands at 43.3 deaths per 100,000 live births. Child mortality among five-year-olds is also higher in poor municipalities and so it is the general death rate of these communities.
Death rates related to chronic diseases, however, tend to be higher in municipalities with a lower concentration of poverty. This, together with the analysis of general mortality, indicates that the causes of death in the poorest municipalities tend to be infectious conditions and injuries. In addition, the study found that there is a higher mortality rate from chronic diseases among poor urban communities against poor rural communities.
Regional disparity goes beyond economics and it also reflects in comorbidities. Mauricio Gaspar, Director General of INCar Mexico, explained during an interview with MBN that when it comes to cardiovascular diseases, Mexico is divided in two: the north and the south. Epidemiological charts demonstrate the prevalence of arterial hypertension and myocardial infarction in the north and northeast region of the country. The national prevalence of arterial hypertension is 27 percent while in northern states the number exceeds 35 percent. In the south, this rate is below 20 percent. Gaspar explained that “many of these results are because of genetics: the south has a higher rate of natives unlike the north where miscegenation is predominant.”
During an interview with MBN, Alberto Sánchez, Director General of Faro del Mayab, explained that the southeast region has high rates of obesity, high blood pressure and cardiac diseases. This generates appendix and vesicle complications, hernias and urological ailments. “The latter are related to the water conditions in the region.”
A study made by UNAM’s School of Medicine regarding Mexico’s epidemiological map exposed that the risk of premature death from communicable diseases, nutrition and reproduction, is 36 percent higher in the south of the country. In contrast, the risk of premature death from accidental and intentional injuries is 92 percent (almost double) higher in the north. Homicides appear among the 10 leading causes of death among children under five years of age in the north. Meanwhile, leukemia is among the top causes of death in the south and throughout the country. Protein-calorie malnutrition also remains among the Top 10 causes of premature mortality nationally and in the south of the country.