Is this the first time Mexico is exposed to potentially lethal imported illnesses?

Dr Marcos Del Rosario-Santiago is a urologist in the Mexican Navy, and a writer. he shared his point of view about the coronavirus situation in Mexico with The Independent.

This is not the first time people here in Mexico have been exposed to potentially lethal imported illnesses.

During the conquest of Mexico between 1519 and 1521, Spanish troops brought smallpox with them to the Americas, killing over two million indigenous people. In 1918, the Spanish flu killed between 300,000 and 500,000 people, here.

More recently, between March and July 2009, there were over 12,000 reported cases of the A(H1N1) influenza virus in Mexico and 122 recorded deaths.

And while I want to underscore the need for government and society to take coronavirus seriously by, this new virus is one of many major public health challenges we in the global south are facing. For instance, since the 1970s, the mosquito-borne dengue fever has presented a considerable strain on the public health system – in 2018 alone, there were over 12,000 cases in Mexico.

Then, there’s the second leading cause of death in Mexico after heart disease: diabetes. In 2017, over 106,000 people died from the condition and its complications.

Meanwhile, between nine and 10 women are killed daily in Mexico as a result of gender-based violence. Mexico is, in other words, inundated with major public health challenges.

In the context of the current global pandemic, images from the global north and BRICS countries have dominated the news and social media coverage; people singing songs together from balconies while under quarantine, panic-buying in supermarkets, and despicable hate crimes committed against Chinese people being blamed for the public health crisis, just to name a few.

But in many countries like Mexico where millions of people live in poverty – we can’t just meet the pandemic head-on even if we wanted to, because we have major socioeconomic issues that are inextricably linked to dealing with the virus. For instance, what will people who live below the poverty line do if forced into quarantine?

There are tens of thousands of people in this country who live day-to-day with no social safety net.


DISCLAIMER: The author, Dr Marcos Del Rosario-Santiago is a urologist in the Mexican Navy, and a writer. All views in this article are his own and not those of the Mexican Navy, or those of The Yucatan Times.