Social determinants of health

Stories of positive action from around the world

Story numbers correspond to those in the Report.

Enhancing capacity for monitoring, research, and intervention

16.8: Mexico – using evidence to reform the national health system

At the time of the health system reform in Mexico in 2000, half of Mexican families, most of them poor, had no protection against the financial consequences of ill-health. The reform of the Mexican health system invested heavily in the generation and application of knowledge. National health accounts showed that more than half of all health expenditure in Mexico was out-of-pocket. As a consequence, many households were driven below the poverty line or forced deeper into poverty. This evidence created public awareness of a reality that had hitherto been outside the policy debate – namely, that health care itself could become a direct cause of impoverishment.

Major legislative reform was undertaken to establish a system of protection in health and was approved by all political parties in the Mexican Congress. The new public voluntary scheme, called Seguro Popular, came into effect on 1 January 2004. It will expand until universal coverage is achieved in 2010. Periodic national income and expenditure survey analyses show a reduction in the number of households affected by catastrophic health-care payments and a major increase in the use of early detection services for several non-communicable diseases. Source: MEKN, 2007a