President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador announced Friday that Mexico will integrate all areas of the country into a new federally run nationwide healthcare system within two years, saying that at least 115 billion pesos ($5.7 billion) will be invested in that sector over the next year.
“We’ll have a new public health system in two years,” the president said at his daily press conference, just hours before he officially unveils the so-called National Health Plan in the southeastern state of Yucatan.
Funds from a 90-billion-peso designated health fund will be used over the next year to overhaul the sector and improve working conditions, while an additional 25 billion pesos will be invested in the eight states - Guerrero, Oaxaca, Veracruz, Tabasco, Chiapas, Campeche, Yucatan and Quintana Roo - that the new system will initially encompass.
Mexico’s remaining 24 federal entities - 23 states and the Federal District (Mexico City) - will be gradually incorporated into the system at a rate of eight every six months.
“While we’re working on the model plan in the eight southeastern states, services will continue as usual in the rest of the country. But we’re aware that good health service isn’t being offered, and that’s what this intervention is for,” the president said.
Lopez Obrador was referring to the current Seguro Popular program, which he has criticized as fragmented because responsibility is shared by both the states and federal entities.
Concerning the 2019 budget bill to be submitted to Congress on Saturday, funding for the healthcare sector will rise by 50 billion pesos compared to last year, Lopez Obrador said.
The president also said Friday that he wants to eliminate temporary employment - which currently affects around 80,000 employees - in the health system.
Asked about the budget impact of the increased spending on social programs, the president said more revenue can be raised through measures such as cracking down on tax evasion and fighting the theft of fuel from state oil company Pemex’s pipelines.
“I’m optimistic. I think it’ll be enough,” Lopez Obrador, who took office on Dec. 1, said.