Is corruption behind the collapse of Mexico’s healthcare system?

The arrival of COVID-19 in Mexico has evidenced the shortages and needs of the healthcare system. Every year, the government allocates billions of pesos to the health sector, although it has been insufficient.

Mexico City based newspaper EL UNIVERSAL has reviewed the way in which the budget is spent, and found a series of malpractices including paying the salary of non-existent doctors, the purchase of over-priced medicines, and the allocation of public funds for Christmas bonuses and union commissions that were not included in the budget.

All these irregularities can be found in several reports issued by the Federal Superior Auditor (ASF) in the last 10 years, from 2009 to 2018. In a decade, the audit office found irregularities for a total of 42 billion pesos (1.8 billion USD), and only 6% of the public resources were recovered.

Year after year, the audit office finds these types of irregularities but the consequences for these crimes are minimal or are lost amid other events and we never learn the resolution. However, it is especially during emergencies when the irregularities take place and authorities from all levels carry out malpractices.

With these types of actions, the country loses the opportunity to launch projects that will allow the health system to overcome the deficiencies that have lasted for decades. For years, the improvement of the healthcare system has been halted by corruption and the inability of those who lead the government.

Now that Mexico is facing the COVID-19 pandemic, the problems inside the health and security sectors have become more evident.

Moreover, the current federal government might be right when it argues that it now controls public resources because of all the previous irregularities in the states. Nevertheless, with this decision, any irregularity won’t be punished and it hasn’t been explained how will the federal government is planning to prevent malpractices.

The pandemic has confirmed, once again, that the health system is absolutely essential. This public health crisis has to set a precedent so that the system improves because it would be unforgivable that things stayed the same after this health emergency.

Source: EL UNIVERSAL



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