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A New Year for Mexico’s Healthcare Sector: Priorities and Challenges

A new cycle always brings new goals and priorities in different areas – the political one not being an exception. The year began with the inauguration of the new Surgical Tower of Dr. Eduardo Liceaga General Hospital by President Peña, and with Minister of Health Dr. Mercedes Juan’s announcement of a federal investment of MX$3.2 billion to complete health works aiming at fulfilling the six objectives of the Sectorial Healthcare Program. If such resources are allocated efficiently, they will represent an effective strategy to mitigate budget cuts announced in 2014 and 2015, and significant efforts to improve Mexico’s health indicators included in the OECD Health Statistics 2015, which were not favorable enough.

Making healthcare a priority and investing in education are two important issues needing urgent attention of the current administration. According to Alejandro Alfonso Díaz, CEO of ABC Hospitals, Mexico lacks specialized physicians, nurses, and medical staff to keep up with the development of innovative therapies, procedures, and technology. Despite the MX$34 billion investment in the healthcare sector in the last three years, education needs to be prioritized and supported by all actors involved. “It does not matter if a hospital or the system invests heavily in infrastructure if Mexico does not have the right people to deliver effective and quality healthcare services”, Diaz pointed out in a recent interview with Mexico Health Review.

The pharmaceutical industry is expected to have an interesting year with new product launches and consolidation of business strategies. Market access remains the most significant challenge, and once again, companies are looking for specialized professionals to pave their way to public institutions and to develop innovative models focused on demonstrating the efficacy and economic benefit of new products. Clinical trials are expected to increase in number in the country after the implementation of effective policies to shorten approval times by COFEPRIS, while a great opportunity to triplicate investment in clinical research is yet to be grasped according to AMIIF. Relevant efforts are being made to consolidate the medical devices manufacturing hub in the Northern states and to modernize the way Mexican institutions acquire healthcare technology.

Two important questions to be answered in 2016 are “will the government be able to consider healthcare as a motor for economic productivity rather than as an expenditure?” and “how close will the different actors such as the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Education, public healthcare institutions, and private hospitals work in order to improve healthcare from the very basis – education?”. The overall expectation is a year full of opportunities, challenges, and rapid moves to bypass hurdles, most of them of economic nature.