Medical services like in Scandinavia? Impossible

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador promised that at the end of his government, all Mexicans would enjoy the services of a health system similar to that of the Nordic countries.

It will not be possible for him to fulfill what he himself described as a dream yesterday during his press conference.

So he said: “… there are countries like Sweden, like Norway, like Denmark, where health is free, because it is a right, it is not a privilege. The dream that we have and that we are going to make come true is that we can, together, guarantee that right to free medical care and medicines … ”.

And it is that turning that dream into reality is not a matter of just having good intentions, as he undoubtedly has, but of having the economic, human and material resources necessary to provide those medical services and the necessary medicines.

Let us compare the reality of the Nordic countries —Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden— with that of Mexico.

Let’s compare:

1. Percentage of GDP that represents tax revenues in each country and that, in part, is used to finance its public services, including health services: Sweden 44%, Finland 43.3%, Norway 38.2%, Iceland 37.7%, Mexico 16.2 percent.

2. Health spending as a percentage of GDP: Sweden 10.9%, Norway 10.5%, Denmark 10%, Iceland 8.47%, Mexico 5.5 percent.

3. Government spending per capita on health (dollars: Norway 5,803, Denmark 4,903, Sweden 4,895, Iceland 4,219, Finland 3,651, Mexico 607.

4. Number of doctors per 1,000 inhabitants: Norway 5, Sweden 4.3, Denmark 4.2, Iceland 3.9, Finland 3.2, Mexico 2.4.

5. Number of nurses per 1,000 inhabitants: Norway 17.88, Iceland 15.36, Finland 14.26, Sweden 10.85, Denmark 10.10, Mexico 2.85.

6. Number of nurses for each doctor: Finland 4.4, Iceland 3.9, Norway 3.6, Sweden 2.5, Denmark 2.4, Mexico 1.2.

7. Number of beds per 1,000 inhabitants in each country: Norway 3.5, Finland 3.4, Iceland 2.9, Denmark 2.6, Sweden 2.1, Mexico 1.

8. Number of CT scanners per million inhabitants: Iceland 47, Denmark 41, Norway 31, Sweden 28, Finland 16, Mexico 6.

The numbers don’t lie and those listed here say that it will take decades to make AMLO’s dream come true. To achieve this, it will be necessary to greatly increase tax revenues and dedicate more and more money to health spending. Years will then have to pass to build the necessary medical schools, train the teachers who impart their knowledge there, and the general and specialized physicians to complete their studies to serve a growing and aging population. Let us remember that to be a general practitioner six years of studies are required and to be a specialist two to six more. A bachelor’s degree in nursing requires three years and a major of one to two more.

The challenge is extraordinary and few countries have been able to face it in order to today provide high-quality health services to all their inhabitants, including the five Scandinavians mentioned here plus Switzerland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Germany, Luxembourg and Austria. .

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Eduardo Ruiz-Healy

Journalist and producer

Guest column

Opinion writer, columnist, lecturer, media trainer, 35 years of experience in the media, micro-entrepreneur.

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