Long-Term Public-Private Collaboration to Fight COVID-19By Miriam Bello | Wed, 11/25/2020 - 09:13
When asked about the greatest challenge to provide healthcare during the pandemic, Oliva López, Minister of Health of Mexico City, pointed to “the fragmented nature of the healthcare sector and how it complicates proper care provision.” This perspective is shared by other MBN interviewees from the private sector.
Patrick Devlyn, President of the Health Commission at CCE, told MBN that “recognizing the fragmented nature of Mexico’s health system is key to be able to move to a simpler, more efficient one, where the private sector plays a relevant role in improving access for everyone.” COVID-19 is a great example of the private sector’s efforts to support the government through partnerships, he added.
For a proper approach, a unified healthcare sector had to emerge to share the unprecedented burden brought by COVID-19. The agreement, called Juntos por la Salud, brought together hospitals, insurance companies, academic institutions, banks and communication groups, among others. Public and private hospitals shared their patient burden, related to both COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients, starting in April 2020. This model was so successful that it was just renewed last week. Javier Potes, Director General of CMH, told MBN that this partnership was the result of an analysis of different healthcare systems created when the pandemic started to spread in China and Europe. “The public and private sectors wanted to break barriers and build alliances to collaborate and respond to the pandemic,” he said.
Potes recommends making a partnership of this type a long-term solution for the sector. “Before COVID-19, the private sector would have around 40 percent bed availability. The unused space could perfectly be used to attend patients from the public sector at referenced prices.” According to Potes, under the right collaboration framework, the private sector could start investing in infrastructure to provide care for government beneficiaries, focusing on service provision rather than the building itself as in regular PPPs.
After almost a year since the start of the pandemic, the sector has created a stronger response. For instance, Christus Muguerza’s network created a new protocol based on three pillars. “The first was the protection of collaborators and physicians who were to receive COVID-19 patients. Our second priority was to ensure the best health provision for people suffering from COVID-19. The last factor was to educate the community on the disease and its care,” said Juan Galindo, Medical Director of Christus Muguerza, to MBN.
Plans like this and the preventive measures encouraged by the government were linked to a decrease in hospitalizations during July and August. In September, hospitalizations would bounce back but the response has been much smoother and with less shortages in supplies. The agreement with private hospitals allowed more attention for COVID-19 patients to be resumed as it gave the chance for public facilities to open up other attention services. For the alliance between sectors to continue, Devlyn explains the same level of engagement from both parties is required, especially after the economic crisis brought by the pandemic. “The challenges brought by COVID-19 require people, companies and governments to quickly adapt to this new normality to protect people’s lives, while helping our economy restart and grow sustainably.”