Monday, 6 August 2007

Mexico's public health system failing people with diabetes

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Diabetes is Mexico's number one cause of death. In the U.S., diabetes is lower on the list, ranking the sixth leading cause of death. Why is diabetes such a killer in Mexico?

According to Mexico's Health Secretary, it is mostly a cultural problem. Mexico has one of the highest rates of obesity in the world -- rich foods and sugar soda are favored over healthy exercise and diet. Health Secretary Jose Cordova stated healthy eating is almost nonexistent. A meat taco followed by a Coke is often breakfast. Reluctance to properly treat the disease is common. Cordova stated many Mexicans have a dismissive attitude of the condition, with both docs and people with diabetes avoiding insulin unless death is near. Years and years of living are lost due to the complications of chronic hyperglycemia.

Cordova claims treating diabetes could bankrupt the country's health system within the upcoming decade unless diabetes is better controlled. In Mexico, nearly 6.5 million have diabetes (10.7 percent of adults aged 20-69), with 11 million projected by 2025.

Stop right there. This crisis is more complex than indifference or reluctance. Cordova can place the blame on the culture, but poverty is a huge barrier to care -- almost 20 percent of the population lives on less than $1 a day. How do you buy the necessary supplies to treat a disease when you cannot even feed your family? See this June post -- did you know 50 percent of the population is medically uninsured? The Mexican government is failing people with diabetes. I am not an expert on the economics of this nation, but funding for diabetes education, medication and supplies has to rise to the top of governmental priorities.

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