In the last few years, medical tourism has been on the rise in Mexico. This was largely thanks to the high-quality health care that was made available at affordable prices. People worldwide travelled to Mexico to access cosmetic surgeons, ophthalmologists, and dental surgeons for various medical purposes.
Unfortunately, 2020 saw a sharp decline in the numbers within the industry. This was due to the coronavirus pandemic and the worldwide lockdown that followed. With over 200 countries imposing partial or full lockdown, it became impossible for individuals to travel into or out of Mexico to get that medical procedure done.
We are seeing that this situation is fast changing, thanks to the relaxation of the lockdown rules, the underlying circumstances remain prevalent. For instance, in recent times, President Joe Biden of the United States of America issued a wide range of executive orders requiring those entering the United States by land, sea, or air to self-isolate after entry or self-quarantine and provide recent negative coronavirus negative test.
However, beyond the various restrictions affecting movement in and out of Mexico, one issue relevant in recent weeks is the safety of medical tourism in Mexico. In time past, the safety of medical tourism in Mexico centred around the quality of the medical service.
Now, thanks to the prevalence of the coronavirus and the death that has followed it, the issue of safety involves a new perspective centred around safety from the pandemic status virus. This has become even more necessary following the light-touch response that Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has adopted regarding the pandemic.
Notably, just a few weeks back in January reports established that various hospitals in Mexico were overwhelmed by the increasing surge in infected persons. Even worse, that week saw Mexico set a record for the number of deaths in a day. In turn, this has resulted in an increased alert for medical tourist as to whether a trip to Mexico at this stage is the right decision.
Also, while it would have been expected that following the increasing fatalities, a widespread restriction on travels into Mexico will be implemented, this is far from the situation. Even in the face of this increasing number of fatalities within Mexico, the Mexican government continues to provide restriction-free travel to various international tourist. For instance, during winter, the holiday period saw many domestic and foreign tourist visit beach resorts in Mexico.
There is no doubt that in light of scientific evidence that has necessitated the prohibition of a large gathering, this is an invitation to the spread of the virus. These thoughts have also been entertained beyond the United States of America's borders as Canada has also introduced a similar measure requesting people leaving Mexico by land, sea, or air to self-isolate after entry or self-quarantine and provide recent negative coronavirus negative test.
As such, there is no doubt that medical tourism in Mexico at this time comes with loads of safety risks that might be unnecessary, giving the death tolls across the world. This is even worse as the extent of the spread of the virus in Mexico is largely unknown. This is thanks to its failure to adopt evidence-based measures to combat the spread of the pandemic.
For instance, Mexico has failed to adopt mass testing. This is regardless of the severity of the outbreak in Mexico. In context, Mexico has recorded the third-highest number of deaths in the world from the virus. Yet today, Mexico's testing rate is one of the lowest in the world. In turn, this means that the spread of the virus could be unprecedented and beyond what we recognize.
This was recognized by Ximenez-Fyvie when he stated that the existing numbers in Mexico are far from realistic. In the case of low testing, the numbers remain relatively high. In turn, in the event of proper and adequate testing, it will become evident that the numbers of victims far exceeds the official and recorded numbers.
Also, while the new regulations from the United States of America and Canada have demanded tests showing a negative status of the virus, this is hardly effective. This is because it is believed that this regulation will only create another black market where falsified medical documentation and test results get sold by non-accredited laboratories and doctors. In turn, this would do little to increase medical tourists' safety from contacting the virus when in search of a medical procedure in Mexico.
Unfortunately, the unavailability of a functional and effective testing network isn't the only problem that characterizes Mexico's response to the pandemic. There is also the failure to take other precaution to ensure the safety of travellers. For instance, while travellers are required to fill a health questionnaire, in addition to the absence of testing, they don't need to undergo any form of quarantine whatsoever.
The reality is that thanks to these poor measures, it is possible for people to be in close contact with a person with the virus, which increases the spread of the virus significantly. There is no doubt that this poses a risk to domestic and foreign tourists in Mexico across various industries.
While this remains the status quo, it is believed that the sharp decline in medical tourism in the coming weeks, thanks to the regulations from Canada and the United States of America, will spur the Mexican government to prioritize tourist and their safety. This is because Canada and the United States of America both constitute a significant share of Mexico's international tourism sector, contributing to the Mexican economy.
In turn, the government will be forced to take active measures to protect tourists' lives and guarantee their security, as this is tied to their economic stability in the long run. They'll need to instil confidence in medical tourist once again. This way, everyone gets what they need.
Regardless, until then, the situation remains that medical tourism in Mexico is far from safe. Where unavoidable, intending medical tourists must take extra precautions before travelling to Mexico to complete a medical procedure.