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Nobody’s perfect… but…

27 May 2020

Even though the Mexican health authorities have been open about the fact that the reported statistics on COVID-19 infection rates and mortality are incomplete and data is under-reported, criticism of the Mexican response (as well as Mexfiles’ comments on the pandemic stats) has been mostly centered on an assumption that there is insufficient testing, and an unspoken assumption that the government should somehow make the pandemic the center of all governmental decisions, or… perhaps… that the commentator’s priorities MUST be state priorities.

As to limited testing, the so-called “Sentinel Model”, in which only those persons showing a set of symptoms, and only those at a certain number of test sites, are monitored, of course the data is incomplete.  The Sentinel Model was developed in response to a previous near-pandemic… the Swine Flu outbreak of 2009, which started in Mexico but was successfully controlled in large part thanks to quick and effective work by the (corrupt) Calderón Administration’s health department.  That corruption in all departments flourish in the administrations of both Calderon and his successor, Enrique Peña Nieto, including the health department, was a factor in the election of the present administration.  It was simply bad luck that the pandemic hit at a time when the Health system, as with other government functions, was being re-organized, and the state was watching every centavo, leading to massive cuts in programs said to be inefficient, redundant, or hopelessly corrupted.

None of which has changed the general commitment (even under terrible governments) of health workers to provide for the benefit of the general populace.  The Sentinel Model may not be the best testing procedure in the world, numbers may be under-reported (and where are they not?) but with a few notable exceptions, like in US border communities, the  model has allowed to at least keep the resources available ahead of the number of those in need.

As to the assumption that the commentators know what should, or shouldn’t be the state’s priorities, there are two issues.  The most obvious is that some people have an agenda:  either they want their particular business interest to return to normal or that they have a political stake in resetting priorities (or canceling programs that work against their own, or their party’s interests).  The second issue… one easily (and perhaps forgivably) forgotten… is that life will go on.  Even if there is a miracle cure, a wonder drug, or a vaccine, discovered tonight, the government we have was not looking to preserve the status quo, but sold itself as a government of “transformation”… for the good of all, but first the poor.  For Mexico, the priority is not to “return to normal”, but to return to the job of creating new paradigms of citizen-state relations, and a new economic/social system.  All while maintaining a state that has bled money for years on irrelevant investments (and outright theft) and, can expect more than its fair share of natural disasters.

So… is the testing model or the state response perfect.  HELL no… but at least the World Health Organization doesn’t think it’s doing the bad job some might like you to believe.  (translation from SinEmbargo, “La OMS felicita a México por “las firmes medidas sociales y de salud pública” ante la COVID-19″ 26 May 2020):

Mexico City, May 26 (SinEmbargo) .– The World Health Organization (WHO) congratulated the Mexican Government for its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Foreign Relations Secretariat (SRE, for its initials in Spanish) reported today.

“The WHO wishes to congratulate the Government of Mexico for the firm social and public health measures it has adopted to date, including the imposition of strict restrictions on movement and the temporary cessation of the activity by major companies to limit the spread of COVID-19, ” the WHO noted in a letter sent in response to a verbal note of May 8 that the Mexican government had delivered to the WHO.

“In response to the consultation in Mexico, the @WHO congratulates @GobiernoMX for its work to face the # COVID19 pandemic and expresses its agreement on the model that our country will follow as of 1 June, including its application of test stategies, “ the SRE tweeted.

In the letter dated 26 May, the WHO stated that the economic aid plan promoted by the Mexican Government “demonstrates its long-term vision of the path that remains to be followed and [the government’s] will in prioritizing the interests of its citizens, both during the current situation, and as the world faces an uncertain future..”. The letter went on to complement Meixo for its decision to keep various measures in place until the number of infections drops

“In the hope that it will be useful to the Mexican health authorities, the WHO wishes to draw attention to the recently published guidelines regarding adjustments to health and social measures, including several annexes with specific indicators and advice on issues ranging from reopening schools and workplaces to the possibility of allowing for public meetings and tracking contracts, among other issues,.”

However, the WHO noted that the world “will not be able to beat this virus” until member states are able to detect suspected cases and perform tests allowing them to locate and isolate those in contact with persons testing positive.

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