Women's Health Outside the Government’s Priorities
STORY INLINE POST
The federal government’s investment plan is devoting resources to sensitive pathologies such as oncology, but is ignoring issues such as the quality of life of women, including attention to menopause and even family planning, says Director General of Gedeon Richter in Mexico Mauricio Mendieta.
“Women in the country are mostly young people and in Mexico there are almost 400,000 annual abortions because women at a reproductive age do not have access or purchasing power to buy contraceptives. The effect is an increase in abortions and unwanted pregnancies,” says Mendieta.
Among the government’s proposals presented in the National Development Plan is the creation of the Healthcare Institute for Welfare (INSABI), which aims to help the government meet the goal of health coverage for about 20 million people who today do not have access to health services. However, in its first week of operations, INSABI aroused dissatisfaction from patients, who say that the service is not free, and criticism from the opposition, which says dismantling Seguro Popular was a mistake.
Quality care for women includes access to free sexual and reproductive health, which must be provided by social security, ISSSTE or the Ministry of Health. “But that is not happening because the government is not buying anything,” says Mendieta. Public spending on health in Mexico is close to 5 percent of national GDP, well below the average 8.8 percent estimated by the OECD to provide an optimal health system.
Meanwhile, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies such as Gedeon Richter, which works in segments such as fertility and menopause, have seen the private market for women’s health grow. “Until about three years ago, there were only three players in the market for women's health. Today, there are 15. This is an advantage for patients because they have plenty to choose from. Unfortunately, this is only a privilege for the private sector. In the public sector, there is no access and the government must invest.”
According to Gedeon Richter, the female population in Mexico is in a demographic transition, which means there are about 9 million women over 45 who are soon going to enter menopause. “The latest data submitted by the government show there is no investment in the women's health portfolio. There is no clear answer to what will happen with the government,” says Mendieta. This group of women will double in 17 years and will need care for symptom control and protection of the central nervous system, bones and vascular changes, according to Mendieta. Almost 50 percent of these women will also need care to minimize the risk of diabetes, hypertension and obesity.
“This should be a priority for the government. However, we are going to see more pregnant teenagers, and girls who have not finished playing with dolls and are already moms. This is the Mexico we live in and the rates will remain high as long as there is no serious program established to try to counter this. The only way to improve accessibility is to make family planning products free in the public sector,” explains Mendieta.
Mendieta highlights another problem that needs attention: the legal interruption of pregnancy throughout the country, since currently only Mexico City and the State of Mexico approve it. In other states, abortion is only allowed if the pregnancy resulted from a sexual assault, if the fetus is poorly formed or if the pregnancy puts the mother's life at risk. “Pregnancy completely alters a woman's life. Women must have the ability to decide when they want to become pregnant. This part is critical because the future of many girls depends on it.”
For its part, Gedeon Richter wants to consolidate its presence in four therapeutic areas in 2020: fertility control, menopause management, gynecological therapy and medical devices. The company also intends to enter the market for hormonal intrauterine systems, which is valued at US$15 million in Mexico and in which there is only one player. The company is also targeting probiotics for the management of polycystic ovarian syndrome and androgenization disorders. Gedeon Richter also is betting on becoming one of the great fertility players in Mexico and Latin America with a complementary fertility portfolio. “We are confident of the potential that Mexico has and we will continue to invest in the country,” says Mendieta.
Women’s Needs by Age
- Girls under 10 years: priority vaccination
- 11 to 18-year-old girls: access to family planning products without parental consent
- Women between 11 and 45: human papilloma vaccine (decreases the risk of developing cervical cancer and improves reproductive future)
- Women between 45 and 60 years: attention to obesity, hypertension, diabetes and osteoporosis
Gedeon Richter is the largest pharmaceutical manufacturer in Hungary and it specializes in gynecology drug developments. It is present in more than 38 countries with five manufacturing facilities, 29 representative offices and 38 sales subsidiaries