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MEXICO: Medical care

Raul Escalante, who performed valuable help as a volunteer in Mexican health services, Says: "Tim Brown is clearly a gentleman, although the clarification was unnecessary, from my perspective at least. My opinion of public health care in Mexico is actually worse than his, although I do believe he is right when he suggests that doctors make do pretty well with very few resources. Over three years, I transported many patients to public hospitals in Mexico City and believe I can speak to what things were like (at least ten years ago). The main problem was not in the overall quality of the doctors (although I was unpleasantly shocked a couple of times), but rather the unpredictability of what you would get. In some cases, our patients were turned back because of lack of resources (once, our crew was actually asked to leave our Oxygen tank behind because the hopsital was out). Other times, the ER was so overcrowded that there simply weren't enough beds to go around.

The degree of concern shown by doctors was also unpredictable: one time a simple fractured leg is rushed into the "shock cubicle", another time an anaesthesiologist orders our crew to stop CPR because she doubted our judgement (in the US, that doctor would have probably faced criminal charges)... Apparently Julio Frenk, the new Secretary of Health, is being quietly successful in reforming the health care system. Although I firmly believe that the difficulty in suing for malpractice has the unquestionable benefit of making high quality private health care affordable, even without insurance (albeit, for about 10-15% of the population), the diminution in accountability always makes me uneasy when I seek medical assistance. Society benefits at the expense of the individual who bears a greater risk in medical treatment".

Eric Weiss adds his comment: "We should hold health care providers in other countries, particularly so called "developing" ones, in high esteem. In contrast to the U.S., (at least historically), physicians do not have particularly high social status, are not paid well, and struggle with a medical infrastructure that is usually not well supported (funded) by their governments. The description of the hospital in Merida is all too common. Physicians practicing in such an environment tend to be dedicated, compassionate, creative, and smart. Just in short supply".

Ronald Hilton - 4/25/02