Photo: Science News


So-called populist Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) may be ready to plow up to 107 billion pesos in life support for the desperately moribund state-run oil giant Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex, which with financial obligations of more than $106 billion, is the world’s most-indebted oil company), but he doesn’t seem to have the same concern for the nation’s children.

On Friday, March 29, his administration’s already-financially squeezed Health Secretariat (SSP) announced that it will suspend once-mandatory newborn metabolic screening tests “until further notice” due to mounting budget cutbacks.

The tests, which are usually done during a baby’s first few days of life, are crucial in detecting a broad range of more than 40 developmental, genetic and metabolic disorders that, if caught early, can be treated before symptoms become apparent.

If these disorders are not detected early, their consequences can be irreversible and even deadly.

Consequently, the suspension of the tests puts in danger the lives of millions of Mexican babies.

The tests – which save thousands of infants each year – were made mandatory for all Mexican newborns in 1998.

Until Friday’s suspension, all public hospitals in Mexico conducted the testing free of charge, while in private hospitals parents were billed about 2,500 pesos for the exams.

Once the news of the suspension of the tests was made public, outraged doctors across Mexico were tweeting messages late Friday night imploring the federal government to reverse its decision, which some called a “criminal act.”

Public health has been one of the sectors most severely hit by budget cutbacks since AMLO took office on Dec. 1, with at least 6,000 public hospital doctors losing their jobs so far.




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