Prioritizing Healthcare on the Economic AgendaWed, 09/07/2016 - 17:30
Life expectancy in Mexico has increased drastically due to many advances and programs. “Simple schemes like vaccination programs have had a drastic impact,” said Miguel Lombera, President of the Mexican Society of Public Healthcare and moderator of the fourth panel of Mexico Health Summit 2016, Prioritizing Healthcare on the Economic Agenda. But longer lives are beset by degenerative chronic diseases.
Mexico invests less of its GDP in healthcare than most other OECD countries, showing up third from last on the list. Xavier Valdéz, Director General of IMS Health, said that Mexico “needs to invest more or optimize resources,” and emphasized the importance of choosing drugs for their effectiveness over their cost. “We should be talking more and more profoundly about access to medicine,” he said.
The country’s healthcare system is also important for promoting Mexico internationally, said Blanca Mendoza, Health Director at ProMéxico, “The health sector is a priority for the Ministry of Economy and ProMéxico,” she said. “The organization and the government are aware of the importance of the health sector in promoting Mexico abroad.” She stressed the importance of communication between different areas to optimize care. The healthcare sector is aided by the agreements spearheaded by ProMéxico with other countries as they enable Mexico to export its medical devices and pharmaceutical products.
Lombera asked José Alarcón Lead Healthcare Partner of PwC Mexico to give his opinion on optimization of public resources. “There are PPPs in which the private sector gives a service that corresponds to the public sector. These agreements allow the two to share risks, with the private sector taking on the financial risk while the public sector operates the hospital,” he said. Alarcón explained that in 2014 there were 296 PPP hospitals operating worldwide. Of these, the UK had the most with 113, Canada came in second place with 56 and Australia in third with 16. On this list, Mexico is in joint fifth place with the US at six PPP-operated hospitals. Those six hospitals have an accumulated CAPEX of US$455million. Alarcón added that there are six further PPP hospitals authorized, which will bring Mexico’s total to 12.
PPPs in social infrastructure are increasingly a topic of conversation as the health sector has not been immune to widespread federal budget cuts. Cristóbal Thompson, Executive Director of AMIIF, said that “there were MX$9 billion in cuts to the healthcare budget last year, in addition to being third worst in investment in health in terms of GDP.” Efficiencies are needed to improve healthcare in the short term, which would also counteract budget cuts, he said.
“It is clear that health is vital for Mexico’s competitiveness,” he added. A study AMIIF participated in, carried out by the US Chamber of Commerce, measured the productivity cost tied to health issues. It determined that in 2013 it was 6.3 percent of GDP. “It is important to have a system that gives the results needed.”
Lombera also emphasized the inexpensiveness of prevention over cure. “We need to mitigate the cost of hospital and tertiary healthcare through improving primary care and prevention,” he said.
A member from the audience pointed out that it is not the amount of money spent on healthcare that matters but the structure of the spending. “We all have an important role to play in this sector and we are all responsible,” ProMéxico’s Mendoza added. “We need to be more efficient and innovating.”
Alarcón pointed out the need to maintain efforts. “In Mexico in 2008, 228 clinical trials were carried out. By 2014 this number had dropped to 129.” He added that Puerto Rico has managed to increase its income in R&D and is a model to follow.