[Hoje Macau, Macau]




Excelsior, Mexico

Why are People Dying in Mexico, But Not the U.S.?


"I have always preferred the Mexican health system, which is much less rigid. Ö On this occasion, I'm afraid that, shocking as it is, we should conduct ourselves more like people from the United States than Mexicans."


By Leo Zuckermann



Translated By Halszka Czarnocka


April 28, 2009


Mexico - Excelsior - Original Article (Spanish)

The number of Swine flu fatalities in Mexico has been shocking - but thusfar in the U.S., there has only been a single fatality - a Mexican infant visiting the United States.


BBC NEWS VIDEO: For the first time 40 years, the planet confronts a flu pandemic; an analysis of the global situation,' Apr. 29, 00:04:00RealVideo

While in Mexico more over 100 people have died in the epidemic of swine flu, out of twenty cases that have appeared in the United States, none have been fatal. At the moment, there is no scientific explanation for this disparity. Nevertheless, I suspect that it has to do with the difference in health care systems of the two countries. I've had an opportunity to live on both sides of Rio Bravo and consequently I'm familiar with both systems. I have fallen ill here and there, and can assure you that these are two very different worlds.


Here's an example: When I get a fever in Mexico, I telephone my doctor. He's a friend who knows me perfectly. He asks me about my symptoms, makes an initial diagnosis and usually issues me a medical prescription over the phone. He only asks me to come see him if he thinks my condition is very serious. I donít even go to a pharmacy to buy my medication. I call them and they send it to me at my home without even asking for the prescription. I take my pills, get well and continue with my life. One, two, three, the fever is gone and the story is over.††



Since people who use the public health system have to wait on endless lines to see a doctor, they only go when they are gravely ill. If their symptoms are mild, as in my case, they call a doctor friend or self-medicate. Many will consult a pseudo-doctor or drugstore pharmacist.


This type of treatment is unthinkable in the United States. When I had a fever there, I called my doctor. I usually couldn't find him and so my phone call was answered by the doctor on call. I told him my symptoms and all he would tell me was to come to the clinic the next day or, if I felt really bad, to go to the emergency room of the nearest hospital. He never gave me a diagnosis over the phone; much less issue me a prescription.


This isnít because it isn't allowed. For the most part, it's because doctors in the United States live in constant terror. If they make a mistake, the patient can sue them and win an ungodly amount of money. In this way, the incentives of the U.S. system render physicians extremely cautious. It's not by chance, then, that all the sick end up coming to see their doctors, which, incidentally, is very expensive for society. In their offices or in the hospital, doctors order a multitude of tests to be absolutely sure of their diagnosis. Moreover, they have to maintain precise records and report to authorities if they uncover an epidemic disease. If they donít, once again, they are exposed to multimillion dollar suits.



Here, I believe, is the answer. In Mexico, only the most serious cases reach a doctor and, ultimately, the hospital. These are people who have been sick for a long time and don't respond to the drugs they've been taking. In this epidemic, I would imagine that those who actually see a doctor are in an advanced stage of the illness. And since anti-viral medications work only if influenza is detected in its initial stages, many of these patients end up dead. That doesn't happen in the United States, where, for the systemic reasons I have described, the less serious cases are immediately detected. And so treatment can begin with anti-viral drugs that are extremely effective in those initial stages.


I have always preferred the Mexican health system, which is much less rigid. I particularly like the personal relationship we have with our doctors. And yet, on this occasion, I'm afraid that, shocking as it is, we should conduct ourselves more like United Statesiens [people from the U.S.] than Mexicans. It goes against our customs and mores, but in this epidemic of a potentially deadly virus, it is extremely important to see a doctor as soon as the first symptoms of the illness occur. And under no circumstances should you wait to become a total ruin before going to the hospital.




































[Posted by WORLDMEETS.US April 29, 5:49pm]