Two years into the COVID-19 outbreak, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said during the Pulso de la Salud (Health Pulse) segment of his daily press conference that the health system is ready to enter a “new stage.”
“We want to let the people of Mexico know that, fortunately, conditions are now better. That the pandemic is giving way almost completely. We will continue attending what is related to the pandemic, but we are going to focus on the creation of the new healthcare system with the purpose of guaranteeing the right to health for the people of Mexico,” said López Obrador.
This new stage, he said, refers to a health plan for those that do not have social security. This model would provide the general population the care “they deserve,” and involves offering medical units, health centers and hospitals in good condition. These centers will also have the necessary equipment, medical professionals and specialists to provide attention on weekends and at night. Clinical tests and medicines are also expected to be provided for free.
López Obrador said that the transition has already begun in Nayarit, where IMSS-Bienestar will provide health services to those who do not have social security. Nayarit was selected as the kick off state after a census of the health system pointed to a deficit of 1,629 health workers, including 453 general doctors, without whom hospitals cannot operate efficiently 24/7. Infrastructure improvements are also needed as the census identified a lack of 12 neonatal units, an operating room, anesthesia and ophthalmological units and other spaces. Medical devices supply was also deemed poor, as MBN had previously reported.
Mexico was highly responsive during the first stage of the COVID-19 outbreak, said Hugo López-Gatell. “We kept twice the number of beds available at all times and now we have an average occupancy of less than two percent in the COVID-19 units. We have a high response capacity,” said López-Gatell. Mexico also has a high vaccination rate, he added. Vaccines have been applied to 90 percent of Mexico’s adult population, leading to high immunity, according to López-Gatell. The country also averages less than four daily deaths from COVID-19 and less than 300 daily cases.
“Based on these criteria, although they have yet to be formalized by the World Health Organization (WHO), we can identify that in Mexico we are already closing the epidemic cycle and moving to the endemic state,” López-Gatell said. Despite these changes, the country will maintain current sanitary protocols. “At this time, the use of face masks is no longer essential. They can be useful in closed spaces, of course. Whoever wears one will be less likely to transmit the virus.”
The government had urged the use of face masks at some spaces and events, but these requirements will change in the coming days, said López-Gatell.