Funding cuts are affecting health care in 22 states. Funding cuts are affecting health care in 24 states.

Hospitals under pressure as budget cuts create personnel, medicine shortages

State workers' health service in Durango warns situation will become grave if problems remain unsolved

Shortages of doctors, nurses and medicine are among the problems faced by hospitals in 24 states as a result of federal budget cuts to the health sector.

A report published today in the newspaper Milenio said the reduction in health funding — part of the government’s wider austerity plan — is affecting hospitals in the north of the country, the Bajío region, central and southern Mexico and the Yucatán peninsula.

In Durango, the State Workers’ Social Security Institute (ISSSTE), a federal organization responsible for part of Mexico’s public health care system, is at a critical juncture, according to an institute official.

Patricia Herrera, ISSSTE delegate in the northern state, said the institute doesn’t have enough medical and administrative staff following the layoff of around 100 employees.

Supplies of medicine have fallen from 97% to 80%, she added, warning that if the problems are not promptly solved, the situation will become “grave.”

Baja California Sur Health Secretary Víctor Flores said that funding in that state has been cut by 30 million pesos (US $1.6 million) and that the operation of basic medical services in rural communities has been affected.

At least 11 hospitals in Chihuahua have faced shortages of medicine and medical supplies, a situation that forced the Ciudad Juárez General Hospital to suspend virtually all emergency services for more than 36 hours earlier this month.

In San Luis Potosí, the availability of medicine is also on the wane and a reduction in federal funding has forced state authorities to slash by half the stipends paid to medical interns working at both hospitals and health clinics.

In Yucatán, the government’s budget cuts have placed patients and personnel at the ISSSTE regional hospital in Mérida in an especially sticky situation – while the city swelters through soaring temperatures, the air conditioning system has been switched off in several parts of the facility as a cost-cutting measure.

Farther east in Quintana Roo, 45% of employees at 59 urban and rural health centers will lose their jobs when their current contracts expire, Milenio said, while 45 workers have already been laid off.

Public hospitals, clinics and pharmacies in Veracruz are experiencing shortages of antiretroviral and cancer drugs and staff cuts are also in the works.

In Tabasco, 500 health care employees who worked for the Seguro Popular program were laid off in January and other medical personnel in the state say that they are owed wages.

Authorities in Nayarit, Guerrero, Oaxaca and Sonora say that their health systems are also under pressure due to the federal budget cuts.

Since taking office in December, the government led by President López Obrador has implemented a range of austerity measures including reducing funding to 15 secretariats and other federal departments, and slashing  wages.

Budget and staffing cuts at the Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS), another large public health care provider, were cited by Germán Martínez as key reasons why he stepped down from his position as agency chief yesterday.

In a resignation letter, he charged that the Secretariat of Finance’s interference in IMSS is “pernicious” and that “excessive savings and controls in health spending are inhumane.”

Source: Milenio (sp) 

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