March 11, 2013
The Wall Street Journal, 3/8/2013
He was like many people in their early 20s, at least the type with spiky black hair and two lip rings. Four years ago, while living in this teeming border city, Gonzalo Garcia says he spent free time in the U.S., to shop, meet girls, and “hang out.” He had no idea he was developing a potentially deadly form of tuberculosis. Exactly how long he had it will never be known. He says he started losing weight and becoming tired and tried to get help. But it took a year before a doctor finally figured out what was wrong: He had a drug-resistant strain of TB. “Many doctors said I was just fine,” said Mr. Garcia, sitting in the clinic where he was cured.
To this day, it isn’t clear if he infected anyone on either side of the border while he was contagious. But his tale illustrates a nagging concern among health officials who say the 2,000-mile border between the U.S. and Mexico could become a breeding ground for one of the hardest forms of TB to treat. Already, both California and Texas, as well as some states on the Mexico side of the border, have unusually high rates of drug-resistant TB.
January 7, 2013
ABC News, 1/7/2013
Authorities in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas say a bacterial disease has killed five babies and sickened 41 others in a remote indigenous community that is experiencing a wave of intense cold and rains. Chiapas’ health department said Sunday in a statement that residents of Emiliano Zapata in the municipality of Yajalon have been urged to stay in their homes and avoid contact with others to prevent the spread of the bacteria that is causing the infection, which is characterized by coughing and fever. Authorities are looking into whether it is whooping cough.
November 21, 2012
Kansas City Star, 11/21/2012
A fifth of all Mexican women and more than a quarter of men are believed to be at risk for diabetes now. It’s already the nation’s No. 1 killer, taking some 70,000 lives a year, far more than gangster violence.
Public health experts blame changes in lifestyle that have made Mexicans more obese than anywhere else on Earth except the United States. They attribute changes to powerful snack and soft drink industries, newly sedentary ways of living and a genetic heritage susceptible to diabetes, a chronic, life-threatening illness.
November 9, 2012
The Washington Post, 11/8/2012
The decision by voters in Colorado and Washington state to legalize the recreational use of marijuana has left Mexican President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto and his team scrambling to reformulate their anti-drug strategies in light of what one senior aide said was a referendum that “changes the rules of the game.”
It is too early to know what Mexico’s response to the successful ballot measures will be, but a top aide said Peña Nieto and members of his incoming administration will discuss the issue with President Obama and congressional leaders in Washington this month. The legalization votes, however, are expected to spark a broad debate in Mexico about the direction and costs of the U.S.-backed drug war here.
February 9, 2012
Associated Press, 2/9/12
Officials of a Mexican political party are apologizing to 650 Indians and other people who suffered food poisoning after attending a campaign rally in southern Mexico.
But the leader of the Institutional Revolutionary Party in Guerrero state also says that blame goes to the candidate who held the event. Party leader Victor Valencia says it’s not the fault of the former ruling party.
Authorities in the indigenous town of Chilapa had to open an auditorium Wednesday to treat people who became sick after eating rice tacos and eggs handed out by former mayor Sergio Dolores, who is running for congress. Guerrero state civil protection officials say adults and children were fainting, throwing up and suffering from diarrhea.
October 21, 2011
San Francisco Chronicle, 10/21/11
Anghella Torres is just 4 years old, but already she weighs 66 pounds – twice what she should. Because of her excess girth, her little feet constantly hurt from bearing the extra weight.
Anghella knows she is obese and she doesn’t like it. And now, even though she doesn’t know how to read or count calories, she is on a diet. With the help of her grandmother and caretaker, Elizabeth Sucilla, Anghella is following a modest diet and exercise program established for her by a nurse at a local public hospital earlier this year.
“I have to stop eating candies,” she said. Her new regimen also requires her to cut down on the deep-fried potato wedges she ate every other day in the streets and spoonfuls of heavy cream she downed like yogurt.
June 4, 2009
The Economist, 6/4/2009
MEXICAN government officials rarely miss a chance to point to America’s demand for illegal drugs as the cause of their violent struggle with traffickers. But the notion of the country as an innocent victim of geography is increasingly outdated. Although Mexico is still a middleman between Colombian growers and American consumers, it is fast becoming a destination for narcotics in its own right. In the past six years drug use is reckoned to have risen by nearly 30%, and the trend shows no signs of abating. President Felipe Calderón has mainly treated drugs as a national-security issue, but the consequences for public health may be almost as severe.
May 9, 2009
The Los Angeles Times, 5/09/2009
Mexican President Felipe Calderon sounded victorious when he went before his nation to declare that the worst of the swine flu crisis was past.
By acting with speed and certainty, Calderon told television viewers early this week, his administration had blunted what once looked like a runaway, potentially disastrous epidemic.
“The situation that we faced was not simple,” he said. “The federal government made firm decisions to protect your health and that of your family. . . . Because we did the right thing, our strategy is working well.”
“It’s not that the campaign was suspended,” columnist Marcelino Perello wrote in the daily newspaper Excelsior, referring to the pause in electioneering. “It’s that the campaign is the health alert itself.”
May 4, 2009
Restaurants and cafes in Mexico City are to reopen on Wednesday after the country recorded a fall in new cases of the swine flu virus.
Libraries, museums and churches are to follow suit a day later but cinemas, theaters, and bars are to remain closed, the mayor’s office said.
Government officials are meeting to discuss when schools and businesses across the country can resume work.
UN health officials have warned against international complacency.
May 1, 2009
Op-Ed, Julio Frenk Mora, New York Times, 5/1/2009
Julio Frenk Mora
EVERY year approximately 10,000 Mexicans die from the effects of seasonal flu. Usually they are the elderly and the very young, people whose immune systems are not robust enough to fight off the virus. But this year has been different. The Mexican disease surveillance system, a network of more than 11,000 hospitals, clinics and doctors’ offices, picked up a minor but troubling trend in April. Across this nation of 110 million people, a handful of young adults had apparently died from influenza. An immediate investigation led, within a few hectic weeks, to the isolation and full genetic sequencing of the microbe causing the illness. The experts’ worst fear was confirmed: it was a new kind of influenza virus.
Some have complained that the Mexican government did not act fast enough to identify this new bug and sound the alarm. But such criticism fails to take into account the real-life complexity of recognizing and responding to an unexpected public health emergency.
As a former minister of health for Mexico, I met with Mexican officials this week to consult with them on their response to the influenza, and I was impressed by how medical scientists in the country quickly perceived the unusual trend of illness against a background of standard flu and then analyzed the virus and alerted global health authorities.