While half of Mexico’s population received the full COVID-19 vaccination during 2021, the local government ignored WHO’s standards, according to Amnesty International’s (AI) 2021/22 Global Analysis and Regional Overviews report. The non-governmental organization (NGO) warned that health inequalities increased in 2021.
After the COVID-19 outbreak, G7 and G20 governments committed to support global vaccination, but while some countries had 500 million surplus doses, countries in the Global South are still waiting for the first dose. AI reports that Norway, UK and Switzerland even hindered attempts to promote global production of vaccines.
This inequality originated in racial injustice, according to the NGO. For example, while Africa has the lowest vaccination rate of less than 8 percent, some EU countries enjoy a 70 percent vaccination rate. By Aug. 2021, over 50 percent of the North America region was fully vaccinated, whereas only 25 percent of the Latin America and the Caribbean population had the full vaccination scheme. The low rates in vaccination allowed the development of more COVID-19 variants during 2021.
AI emphasizes that some government vaccination programs exclude people in vulnerable situations. Mexico, for example, ignored WHO vaccination standards by omitting health professionals of the private sector in the first stage of vaccination. Human Rights Watch also reported that Mexico failed to take measures suggested by global health authorities and that the country has one of the lowest rates of COVID-19 testing. Moreover, Mexico’s authorities also overlooked the health rights of migrants and refugees. By Nov. 2021, 252,526 people had been detained in crowded facilities that did not comply with the required sanitary measures.
Nonetheless, 55.9 percent of the Mexican population received full COVID-19 vaccination during 2021, said AI. The NGO also recognized progress made on the protection of women’s health rights. For example, by the end of 2021, abortion was legal in six states in Mexico. The Supreme Court (SC) issued a historic ruling decriminalizing abortion and invalidating conscientious objection. The decision of the SC will prioritize human rights when medical professionals refuse to provide this service. In contrast, state governments in the US restricted abortion more than in any other year. Also, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras and Jamaica maintained a total prohibition on abortion.
AI invites governments in the Americas to respect and facilitate the right to health without discrimination and to pay attention to marginalized groups. Moreover, the NGO recommends governments of the region to recognize the legitimate work of human rights defenders. Mexico’s current government administration has introduced a bill that would not allow NGO’s to try to influence laws and would allow the government to revoke the NGO status from organizations that violate this law.
“This proposal could effectively prevent Mexican human rights defenders from participating in debates about public policy, challenging abusive laws in the courts, or discussing how to improve rights protections with lawmakers,” said Tamara Taraciuk, Americas Director, Human Rights Watch.