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LatinNews Daily - 07 January 2021

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MEXICO: PAHO criticises health budget

On 6 January, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said that Mexico’s 2021 health sector budget is insufficient to address the challenges posed by the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, and urged the government to increase it.

Analysis:

PAHO’s observations raise further concerns that the government led by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador is still not doing all that is necessary to overcome the pandemic. The López Obrador administration’s handling of the pandemic has already been heavily criticised by the political opposition and by some local public health experts, who consider it to be highly deficient given the country’s high death toll and infection rate, putting the government under pressure to adjust its approach.

  • Speaking at a press conference yesterday, Cristian Morales Fuhrimann, the PAHO representative in Mexico, criticised the government for allocating less than 3% of GDP to the health sector in its 2021 budget. Morales warned that “this may not be enough to tackle the challenges we face… to continue fighting Covid-19, to progress towards universal healthcare provision, and to develop healthcare systems that are resilient against this disease and other pandemics”. Morales urged the government to increase the health budget and to invest in the national health system, to make it more effective and sustainable.
  • Morales’s warnings came as Mexico’s health authorities reported that 13,345 new Covid-19 infections and 1,165 deaths had been recorded in the previous 24 hours, the highest daily infection and death figures recorded in Mexico since the start of the pandemic. All of this suggests that the virus continues to spread rapidly in a country that already has the fourth highest Covid-19 death toll in the world (now numbering 129,987). 
  • The warnings also came as some Mexican doctors complained that they have yet to be informed when they will be vaccinated against Covid-19. The government launched its vaccination campaign last month, and said that it aimed to vaccinate all 700,000 frontline healthcare workers by the end of January. But official figures show that only 53,185 people have been vaccinated to date.

Looking Ahead: This international criticism increases the pressure on the government to adjust its pandemic strategy. Failure to do so could lead to it being punished by the Mexican electorate in the June midterm federal legislative elections.