We have four examples of countries in Latin America creating dynamism in the region’s health market: Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Brazil.In a previous article we analyzed the cases of Chile and Colombia. Here, we continue with an updated analysis of Mexico and Brazil.
Mexico: an economy in the midst of recovery open to the world
According to data from the World Health Organization , the country has been progressively increasing public spending on health, rising from 42.2% in 2005 to 52.6% in 2020. Another index demonstrating the sector’s slow but sustained growth is per capita spending, which more than doubled in fifteen years—from USD 486 in 2005 to USD 539 in 2020—a figure that when compared to Chile’s investment per capita, USD 1,200, is still low. However, it is worth noting that out-of-pocket spending by Mexicans fell from 54.6% to 38.8%, related to public goals of state health coverage.
According to the World Bank, with a population of almost 130 million, Mexico is among the fifteen largest economies in the world, and is the second largest in Latin America. It has unparalleled cultural wealth, is geographically privileged, and has solid macroeconomic institutions that make it a great market for international trade.
The Mexican economy grew by 4.8% in 2021, after an 8.1% drop the previous year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Its recovery is underway, albeit slowly: the World Bank forecasts its growth at 1.8% this year, and 1.5% in 2023.
The administration of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) has now announced plans for a major jump in public spending for 2023.
It is implementing an ambitious policy to transform the health system, setting its sights on emulating the kind of coverage system Denmark has for its population. While its political opponents view this plan as far from viable, the fact is that it has already implemented a series of changes aimed at providing the country’s health care institutions with more and better supplies, which means investment by the state administration in equipment, doctors’ offices, technology, and professional training.
The Sustainable Development Goals Information System (SDGIS) (for Mexico; INEGI, 2018), a coordination project between the Federal Presidency and the INEGI, Mexico’s statistics bureau, tracks the 2030 agenda, collecting information on the progress of the indicators and goals of each SDG. However, the indicator information is out-of-date, as most of the health indicators present information up to 2018. According to the study “Health Expenditure and Sustainable Development Goals ”:
“The health budget maintains the historical gap of more than three GDP points (the WHO recommends countries allocate 6% of their GDP to health expenditure, while Mexico normally allocates just 3%). During the COVID-19 pandemic, health expenditure saw an increase of 3.4% compared to the amount spent in 2019, and is one tenth of what would have been required to respond to the pandemic. Although a historic increase in the range of 14.6% is planned for 2022, the fact is that it still stands at 2.93% of GDP.”