Mexico reverses some cuts, hospitals to see dire shortages

By BLOOMBERG

MEXICO CITY • Mexico’s federal government has partially reversed budget cuts of about US$130 million (RM546 million) for its healthcare system after warnings from hospitals about dire shortages in lifesaving medicine for newborns, cancer patients and others. Health Minister Jorge Alcocer said late last Friday that spending was under review to weed out corruption in the hospital system and that funds are now flowing. Jorge Salas Hernandez, who runs one of the 26 hospitals that raised the alarm last week, said the health institutions have received US$37 million of what they requested.

“These cuts could’ve worsened the health situation,” Salas said in an interview. The government “now understands very well and they’ve begun the process of returning resources.”

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (picture), who took office in December, has slashed budgets in almost every ministry as he seeks to reroute funding to his favoured social programmes and in efforts he said will combat widespread corruption. But the cuts to public health went too far, and hospitals took their complaints to Congress in an effort to fund basic supplies and services. The ensuing fallout could hurt the president’s popularity.

The 26 hospitals, including many that treat special conditions, warned of everything from a 50% reduction in surgeries at a children’s hospital due to shortages in supplies of anesthesia, to the risk of infection because of a lack of antibiotics at a neurology facility. — Bloomberg