The Secretariat of Finance (SHCP) has released more than 2 billion pesos in funding that was withheld from hospitals and national health institutes.
Public health executives met with lawmakers Thursday to demand that the government provide funds that had either been withheld or cut, warning that health institutes and two specialist hospitals in Mexico City were on the brink of insolvency and that their capacity to provide care was at risk.
Maricela Verdejo, director of administration at the National Institute of Rehabilitation, confirmed that 2.46 billion pesos (US $129.1 million) was released.
“Yes, the resources were frozen but today [Friday] 2.46 billion pesos that was withheld from the [health] institutes was released. It now appears in the Secretariat of Finance reports,” she said.
Health Secretary Jorge Alcocer said that after he saw a document submitted by the national health institutes – which detailed the problems the public health system faces due to federal budget cuts and the freezing of funds – he met with Finance Secretary Carlos Urzúa and the matter had been “fixed.”
He rejected that health funding had been cut or frozen, stating that some money earmarked for the sector was held up only because it was “necessary to evaluate” it.
Similarly, President López Obrador has maintained that no money has been cut from the health sector, stating yesterday that the accusations were “inventions.”
However, media reports and accounts from people who work in the health sector contradict his claim.
A report published Wednesday by the newspaper Milenio said that federal budget cuts are causing problems at hospitals in 24 states while the leader of a union that represents government workers said that there have been 10,000 dismissals in the public health sector since López Obrador took office.
On Tuesday, Germán Martínez cited budget and staffing cuts at the Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS), a large health care provider, as key reasons why he resigned from his position as agency chief.
Yesterday, the director of administration at the Federico Gómez Children’s Hospital of Mexico, Carlos Plascencia Pacheco, said the employment of 100 outsourced nurses was terminated in February because there was no federal money to pay them. The hospital has also faced shortages of anesthetics and nitric oxide due to budget cuts.
However, the SHCP has told authorities at that hospital that it is committed to restoring its full budget, while Alfonso Ramírez Cuellar, president of the budget committee in the lower house of Congress and a lawmaker for the ruling Morena party, said the government is committed to adequately funding the entire public health system.
“[Funding] will be guaranteed. There is an absolute conviction and a decision to absolutely guarantee all health services . . .” he said.
López Obrador yesterday offered a similar pledge.
“Let it be absolutely clear: for the health and the education of the people, there is no limit in terms of budget.”
Source: Milenio (sp)