Mexican president-elect vows to improve public health care

August 1, 2018

FILE - In this July 9, 2018 file photo, Mexico's President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador gives a press conference in Mexico City. Lopez Obrador said on Tuesday, July 31, 2018 that he plans to spend heavily in the public health system so Mexicans can enjoy European- quality free health care. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo, File)

MEXICO CITY (AP) — President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Tuesday he plans to direct spending in the public health system so Mexicans can enjoy European-quality free health care.

Mexico has near-universal health coverage through a network of public clinics and hospitals. However, the facilities are often understaffed or lack medicine.

“We’re going to guarantee that medical attention and medicine are free,” Lopez Obrador told reporters. “There will be good attention, and doctors, in health centers.”

He said he will stamp out corruption and free up public funds by consolidating medicine purchases at the federal level. There’s enough money in the budget to cover medication, he said.

He also plans to build regional medical centers so care reaches the poorest and often sickest Mexicans. And he plans to resume construction at 50 hospitals that he said the government spent 10 billion pesos ($537 million) to build, but then abandoned.

Prevention will be a priority, he said.

The Mexican Health Ministry declared an epidemiological emergency in 2016 over diabetes mellitus, saying it kills 98,000 Mexicans a year. That compares with the country’s 31,174 homicides in 2017.

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