News Article

How Will The Ministry of Health Face COVID-19?

By Miriam Bello | Tue, 03/24/2020 - 13:23

Yesterday, WHO catalogued Mexico as a country on Phase 2 of the COVID-19 pandemic following the appearance of local-transmission cases. This morning, the Ministry of Health made the official declaration. Mexico has 292 imported cases of the virus and five cases with no identifiable history of contact with foreigners.

Phase 2 of contingency implies that there is local dispersion of the virus, which means that cases might go up by the hundreds with unknown origins, which means that there is a local contagion that does involve foreign intervention. At this stage, more rigorous sanitary measures should be taken to prevent massive contagion, which will eventually lead to Phase 3. This epidemic phase is expected to be announced in one to two weeks from now when cases reach the thousands like in Italy and Spain. However, according to the Ministry of Health, Mexico has taken preventive measures at the right time in order to prepare for this scenario. Deputy Minister of Health Hugo López-Gatell said that by the time we reach Phase 3, the country could have between 175,000 to 300,000 confirmed cases, of which 70 percent could be asymptomatic.

To prepare for Phase 3, López-Gatell exhibited the Ministry of Health’s active recruitment process for medical staff to increase capacity of public healthcare services in Mexico. The Ministry has already recruited 1,200 people but the goals is to hire 43,000 professionals through the Médicos para el Bienestar (Physicians for Well-being) program, which started as an INSABI initiative. Additionally, López-Gatell presented the public infrastructure plan for the COVID-19 contingency which is shown in the picture above.

During President López Obrador’s morning conference, Minister of Finance Arturo Herrera also shared the budgets that his Ministry had destined to healthcare entities. SHCP destined MX$4 billion (US$159.7 million) to SEDENA and MX$500 million (US$19.9 million) to the Navy for the DN-III plan and Plan Marina, both focused on attending an epidemic scenario. Herrera also reported that MX$15 billion (US$600 million) will be transferred to each state as an advancement on their budgets for April-June 2020. As a result, each state would have a total of MX$20 billion (US$800 million) that would mainly be destined for the COVID-19 pandemic. Herrera also highlighted that IMSS and ISSSTE have a budget of MX$825 billion (US$32.9 billion) and MX$349 billion (US$13.9 billion) and that the budget assigned to INSABI will have the flexibility to move to other healthcare entities given the actual sanitary emergency.

Miriam Bello Miriam Bello Senior Journalist and Industry Analyst