WHO report finds Mexico could have prevented 190,000 deaths

A study led by UCSF, commissioned by the WHO, says that certain decisions made by the Mexican government were wrong and claimed the lives of more Mexicans
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AP/FERNANDO LLANO  -   COVID-19 patient in a field hospital built inside the Citibanamex convention centre in Mexico City

Mexico currently has the third highest number of COVID-19 deaths, and is ranked as the fourth most excessively deadly country in the world. These statements are reflected in a report by the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF), commissioned by the World Health Organisation (WHO). This document highlights that the Mexican government could have prevented 190,000 deaths by managing the pandemic during 2020. The number of deaths has also been caused by various diseases, which the Mexican health system did not attend to, due to the priority given to hospitals and health centres by COVID-19. 

The report compares the management of 39 countries, and places Mexico in fourth position with respect to excess mortality, just behind Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia. The Central American country has 43% excess mortality, the document compares the management with the years 2019 and 2018, the average of the countries compared in the document, register 17%, clearly Mexico almost triples that figure. "Mexico has been hit by a single wave that has fluctuated between very high and extreme levels of COVID-19 without correcting the policy to control transmission ...." "We estimate that, if Mexico had performed like the average country, about 190,000 deaths from all causes would have been averted in 2020″, says the report where deaths in 2021 are not recorded. One of the big problems is the official figures, as the Mexican government says the number of deaths could exceed 300,000 people, a number that would put Mexico on a par with Brazil.

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AFP/ALFREDO ESTRELLA - The chilling rise in deaths from the pandemic has overwhelmed the country's hospitals, funeral homes, cemeteries and crematoria

The document states that the excessive concentration of authority and the decision-making process by the executive branch alone has not benefited the management of the pandemic. The insufficient deliberation of such decisions and the marginalisation of the institutions in charge of health policy were the main failings of the national government's management of the pandemic. The Consejo de Salubridad, the institution most responsible for health in the country, was put on the back burner in decision-making, as independent experts were not consulted. Independent or apolitical researchers are needed, science has no ideology, and one of the big problems was the poor coordination between the central and regional governments, due to political differences. "The pandemic response from the outset eroded the credibility of health authorities among relevant stakeholders and led to uncoordinated action across the country .... as circumstances deteriorated, [we] found a propensity to cover up policy mistakes and engage in scapegoating, contributing to communication noise," the report said. From a communications point of view, the executive had many problems, as it lacked sufficient transparency with regard to official data, the information provided by the government was incomplete and politicised. 

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Doctors and nurses prepare before entering the intensive care unit for COVID 19 patients at Juárez Hospital, while the coronavirus disease (COVID 19)

In the international community, most countries divided the pandemic into "waves", several had two or three waves, in the case of Mexico it has only had one wave, showing an inability to control transmission, according to experts. In the supposed stabilisation period, which was in the autumn season, cases began to increase ferociously, at a very rapid pace, the report said, with the "authorities hesitant to re-establish containment in the Mexico City area".

The scientists said part of the problem was the authorities' insistence on passing on illnesses at home, and not seeking medical attention with the exception of severe symptoms. "This has contributed to high mortality rates, with patients seeking medical care only when they were seriously ill and an estimated 58 per cent dying outside hospital". The diagnosis of heart problems, uterine cancer, diabetes and breast cancer were responsible for many of the deaths, as diagnosis of this disease was drastically reduced, due to the lack of staff, equipment and resources used to manage the pandemic.  

Latin America Coordinator: José Antonio Sierra.