Mexico Needs Medical Talent to Step Up

By Cas Biekmann | Thu, 03/26/2020 - 16:50

Understaffing and dealing with a lack of resources make facing the COVID-19 pandemic ever more daunting. Mexico could learn from experiences abroad to boost its medical talent availability and stop the virus from wreaking havoc.

From a foreign perspective, Mexico’s health system seems somewhat obscure. In reality, the system offers quite a few benefits. Public healthcare is widely available for those under official working contracts. The most expensive option is private healthcare, which also offers the best care. While difficult to attain for the average Mexican citizen, prices are low, especially if compared to other countries.

The OECD, however, holds strict standards: one doctor should be available for every 333 residents. The latest study from the World Bank reports that Mexico has one doctor for every 477 residents. Last summer, president López Obrador visited Michoacán and said, “there are 270,600 general practitioners in the country, while according to international norms we should have 393,600 doctors. That means we are 123,000 doctors short.” These figures are worrisome, especially since norms do not take a pandemic into account.

Such low numbers of doctors per capita can be seen as problematic, but medical equipment is also necessity for medical professionals to do their job properly. Animal Politico cited government sources and calculated that there might not be enough hospital beds available in the country to face the pandemic. Furthermore, professionals need a variety of equipment to keep themselves safe from the virus. CDC guidelines state doctors need eye protection, a N95 respirator (or a facemask if not available) and tight-fitting gowns and gloves. A shortage of equipment is common and has been observed in the US and Europe. Mexico is no different and doctors worry about only having one facemask per day as they are rapidly running out.

Both the government and the private sector are responding to the challenges Mexico faces. The Ministry of Health is looking to hire more and more medical staff, as reported by Expansión. However, this concerns people who have already finished their medical studies. On the short term, it will not be possible to have more students graduate because they have to study for years. Nonetheless, the current situation could give a boost to medical professions. Furthermore, El Heraldo reported that Mexico City is doing its best to acquire more beds, preparing to receive 1,600 units in Mexico City. The supply of basic healthcare products needed to face the COVID-19 pandemic is guaranteed for at least the next 100 days, Minister of Economy Graciela Márquez said. The private sector is not sitting on its laurels either, as Tech Crunch reports Ford, 3M and GE are rapidly building more respirators, face shields and ventilators for the global market. This improves Mexico’s outlook. If forces are combined adequately, the country might come out stronger after the pandemic, with experienced, well-trained and better equipped medical talent.

The data used in this article was sourced from:  
OECD, World Bank, El Universal, New York Times, Expansión, Tech Crunch, El Heraldo.
Photo by:  
Yair Cerón
Cas Biekmann Cas Biekmann Journalist and Industry Analyst