The provision of healthcare services in Mexico has numerous areas to improve and was severely disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, found the OECD Health at a Glance 2021 report.
Health at a Glance analyzes variations in indicators of healthcare risks, inputs and outputs across countries. Mexico’s 2021 indicators found concerning figures for the country’s healthcare system. Among all OECD countries, Mexico’s life expectancy is the lowest (75.1 against 81 average) and it also shows a high rate of avoidable mortality. The country also suffered the highest excess mortality out of all countries in the OECD.
Mexico has a relatively young population with only 7.4 percent of Mexicans being over 65 years old, while the OECD’s average is of 17.3 percent. The average number of avoidable deaths per 100,000 people in the OECD countries is of 199, whereas in Mexico is of 366. Mexico’s obesity and overweight rates continue to stand out. The percentage of people over 15 years old with a high body mass index (BMI) in Mexico is of 75, while OECD average is of 56.
On the other hand, Mexico has a smaller number of daily smokers and drinkers in comparison to the OECD. The organization averages 17 percent daily smokers; Mexico has only 8 percent. The country also reports the lowest rate for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) hospitalization, a condition for which effective treatment at the primary care level is well established. Low hospital admissions for this condition may point to quality issues in primary care, says the OECD. The country also has the highest mortality following acute myocardial infarction (27.5 deaths per 100 admissions), which is a long-established indicator of the quality of acute care.
Mexicans themselves are also unsatisfied with the health services they receive, which according to the OECD reflects on the effectiveness of coverage. On average across OECD countries, 71 percent of people were satisfied with the availability and quality of their health services but in Mexico satisfaction dropped to less than 48 percent. The report identified a strong increase on mental health issues. In Mexico, the prevalence of depression was nine times higher in early 2020 than in 2019.
The overall spending in healthcare in Mexico is 5.4 percent of the GDP, one of the lowest of the OECD, which averages at 8.8 percent. This low investment leads to a limited number of beds per 1,000 people, only 1.0 versus the OECD average of 4.4. There is also a shortage of doctors and nurses per 1,000 people, which the OECD’s average is of 3.6 and 8.8 respectively and Mexico has 2.4 and 2.9 respectively.
The pandemic, however, caused a drastic increase in health spending as a percentage of GDP: from 5.4 percent in 2019 to 6.2 percent in 2020. This boost was still below OECD’s average, as member countries increased their budget an average of 0.9 percentage points to fight the pandemic. The pandemic also caused a decrease in health attention in 2020 and the number of face-to-face medical consultations fell by 9 percent compared to the previous year. Health workers account for about 8 percent of COVID-19 cases and about 2 percent of deaths from the disease. Overall, mortality from all causes in 2020 and the first six months of 2021 increased 54.8 percent compared to the 2015-2019 average.