No Syringes, no Scans, AMLO’s Budget Cuts Cripple Healthcare
The Head of Department of neuroimaging at the National Institute of Neurology and Neurosurgery Manuel Velasco Suarez (INNNMVS) reported that due to the shortage of syringes, there would be no CT scans. The Institute denied his claim
Dr. Jesus Taboada Barajas, Head of Department of neuroimaging informed the heads of service and the deputy directors of the medical area that due to the “shortage of syringes,” there would be no CT scans at the National Institute of Neurology and Neurosurgery Manuel Velasco Suarez (INNNMVS).
The INNNMVS lost more than 800,000 USD (15,543,433 Mexican Pesos) as a result of the budget cuts, making it one of the most penalized institutions under the AMLO administration.
The Institute has already reduced 70% of its operations since AMLO passed 44% budget cuts in the public health system. Of the 948 schedules procedure in the first trimester of the year, 211 were canceled.
The report on the current public health system, titled, Results-based budgeting, the fulfillment of institutional goals, pointed out that “the number of therapeutic procedures was lower due to the decrease in the budget for human resources.”
Owing to the budget cuts, the Institute had to discontinue night services including highly specialized outpatient diagnostic procedures. The staff that worked in the evenings had high technical qualifications and required cutting edge technology.
The declaration of INNNMVS does not conform with that of the Health Ministry
Besides the shortage of human resources and materials, there is a lack of communication between the state entities and their agencies.
On the one hand, INNNMVS stated that “contrast tomography services function normally.” On the other hand, the Ministry of Health alleged that “the contrasted tomography studies were suspended only on Monday.
Te informamos que los servicios de tomografía con contraste que se realizan en el @innnmvs funcionan de manera normal
— SALUD México (@SSalud_mx) June 12, 2019
At the same time, the head of the Neuroimaging Department claimed that they did not have the necessary supplies.
These inconsistencies, along with the shortage of medicines, and the massive layoffs, caused the resignation of German Martinez, the director of the Mexican Institute of Social Security.
The layoffs, as well as the shortage of medicines, are a part of the “Republican austerity” of president Lopez Obrador. It has cut almost 50% of hospital staff in barely half a year.
For example, in San Luis Potosi, clinics and hospitals reduced half of the doctor and nurse trainee support, as well as 30% of the medical supplies.
Labor insecurity is another problem, along with unpaid wages and layoffs. The contracts of doctors and hospital personnel are not being renewed.
It has already been announced that in regions such as Quintana Roo, for example, 45% of the temporary workers of the Health Ministry will not be rehired. They have contracts until 31st December.
“Saving, and controlling health spending” is “inhumane.”
The former head of the IMSS asserted that “excess control of those resources, which belong to workers and businessmen is irrational and does not adhere to the IMSS norms. It could end the dynamics of social solidarity, which characterizes the Institute.”
German Martinez called it an “inhumane practice of saving, and controlling health expenditure, particularly because “this control manages to take away resources from the poorest Mexicans.”
Inhabitants of the most marginalized regions of the country suffer the most from these budget cuts.
Thirteen babies have already died in Tijuana. Further, the indigenous people of Tzeltal village are claiming that two babies died and a woman suffered a miscarriage due to the lack of supplies and access to hospitals. Remote villages deep in the forest have lost the funding they had for transport during emergencies.
Victims of violence receive priority over newborn babies
The lack of funds is not the only problem. Under AMLO’s administration, Mexico is living through its most violent year. The number of gunshot victims overwhelms doctors. Additionally, the beds allocated to them are thus unavailable for use by other patients.
One baby died because of this crisis. Victims of gun violence, many of them in criminal acts, occupied the 28 emergency beds in the General Hospital of Tijuana. The baby died as there was no space to take care of him.
Being in a deplorable condition, the hospital did not have the required supplies in the laboratories to do the studies. The same happened in Chiapas. An indigenous couple from Tzeltal had to walk eight hours with that five-month-old baby in their arms. Earlier, they relied on air transport to reach the hospital. However, AMO canceled the program. The baby died, and the parents never found out exactly what had happened.
The budget cut does not indicate a lack of resources, rather administrative decisions about their distribution. The amount retracted from the health budget was allocated for the promotion of baseball.
While doctors and health professionals are without work, the government will pay multinational companies through scholarships to hire young people in the “nini” category, those who neither study nor work.
Finally, instead of cutting the state budget and opening up to the economy to the market, Lopez Obrador canceled the bids for multimillion-dollar contracts for the already indebted state-owned company Pemex to assume the costs of building new refineries.
Thus, the government of the “fourth transformation” exposes its priorities and the administrative qualities of the president.