The aim of this essay is to investigate the health of the poor in Mexico. According to the latest calculations, 50 % of Mexican citizens live below the line of poverty. Most of the poor families live in the rural areas of the country. These people are economically unsecured and have little access towards education or health care. Due to the devastating health conditions, high mortality rates, and child diseases with no vaccination, it is vital to research the case and find ways of improving the situation occurring. Good health is the ground for the healthy society. However, the health improvement in Mexico requires both medical and economic factors. Concerning the situation in Mexico, the government has implemented the program called Progresa to fight with poverty and poor health conditions. This program initiated cooperation and responsibility among the authorities and the people and provided financial help to mothers who had to spend money on their childrens well-being. The examples of the programs interventions will be found further by answering the questions dedicated to the essay. In order to shed light on the case, the following questions should be answered:
1. Consider the compact of co-responsibility between the government and recipients. What is needed to make the compact work?
2. Were the cash grants given to mothers? Do you think this was a good idea or a bad one? What might have been the positive and negative consequences of this choice?
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Keywords: Progresa, cash incentives, cooperation, Oportunidades, mothers, compact work, cash grants
Improving the Health of the Poor in Mexico
According to the recent studies, about half of the Mexican population lives beyond the poverty line. The biggest number of poor consists of the residents of the rural territories. Having no money to live on, Mexican citizens have no ability to achieve the adequate health care, be vaccinated, or informed about the problem of disease spread. The characteristic of Mexicos health issues includes infant mortality, low weight at birth, childhood illnesses promoted by bad sanitation conditions, problems with reproductive health, malnutrition, etc. Moreover, the health services in Mexico is poorly equipped, having doctors work with the old medical devices, experiencing shortages of medicine and resources.
Fortunately, there were social policy changes to address the problem of poverty, provide low-income families with the needed products, and medical treatment, respectively. The government attempted to provide products that were of the primary importance. What is more, funds were given to provide rural areas with clean water, sanitary home conditions, and health care units. Notwithstanding the positive changes, there are still bureaucracies and money wasting. The government tries mostly to reduce the symptoms of poverty, not its causes.
One of the beneficiary programs put towards poverty reduction and health improvement is Progresa. According to this program, cash incentives were given to the poor who completed all the requirements set by the government. What is more, mothers were given money to support their childrens health, education, and living conditions. In order to find out more about the program, two questions dedicated to the essays topic were answered further.
The compact co-responsibility between the government and the recipients is the agreement of cooperation and trust. As an example of such cooperative actions is the program Progresa, which battles with poverty and poor health conditions in Mexico. According to the Center for Global Development, Progresa had financial rewards for those recipients who fulfilled the requirements of the program (Center for Global Development, n.d.). Progresas or Oportunidades intervention program was designed to provide incentives in the form of cash transfers to poor families; to improve the use of preventive and other basic health services, nutrition counseling, and supplementary foods; and to increase school enrollment and attendance (Center for Global Development, n.d.). In other words, the program meant to improve the social behavior of the citizens with the reduced level of income. To cooperate successfully on both sides, the government gave people all the conveniences and needs and demanded complete fulfillment of the responsibilities the program declared. Therefore,
the government would provide significant levels of financial support directly to poor households, but only if the beneficiaries did their part by taking their children to clinics for immunization and other services and sending them to school. (Center for Global Development, n.d.)
Thus, Progresa appeared to be an effective co-responsible program that worked with both the government and the population. By providing cash incentives for healthy behavior, the former attempted to make citizens also responsible for the agreement they have established and to initiate public trust for the government.
An evaluation had shown the significant improvement in the health of adults and children, and the use of health services increased. 5-years-old children were cared for and had support in nutrition. Thus, the incidence of illness among the school youths decreased (about 12 %). What is more, people participating in Progresa had fewer days of intense and hard work (19 %) (Center for Global Development, n.d.).
The President Felipe Calderon addressed the Mexican citizens saying that every low-income woman in Mexico would have the free access to prenatal care and delivery (Miranda, 2013). The kind of opportunity for mothers to give birth on free-of-charge conditions was created due to high maternal deaths (75 %) (Miranda, 2013). This social program was also a part of Oportunidades or Progresa. Oportunidades is based on the idea that maternal health disparities can be overcome by providing biomedical services to marginal populations through the distribution of performance-based cash incentives (Miranda, 2013). Therefore, women were provided not with the cash grants but with the state health care insurances that guaranteed them free labor in hospitals. In my opinion, this was a good idea for women who could not pay for giving birth due to the lack of money. Babies could be born into sanitary conditions and taken care of if being born with low weight or other problems. Moreover, the possibility of having an infection was reduced to the minimum. The positive consequences of this choice were that by the end of Calderons presidential term, over six million families were positively influenced by the program.
What concerns the cash incentives, they were given to mothers who promised to spend extra resources on childrens well-being. It was also a good idea to provide female parents with financial support and give money to bring up children in healthy and well off conditions. What is more, the studies prove the positive impact of these beneficiary gifts. However, one drawback can be extracted from this particular situation. If mothers role was greater in bringing up the child, the role of father was considered neutral or less important. Although the former are more responsible concerning children and money, the latter can be responsible as well. There were cases when female parents put the childs needs lower than the needs of the whole family. Thus, the government cannot put fathers at a disadvantage and should investigate each case separately.