The General Health Council is Formally Installed
As a result of the ongoing pandemic caused by COVID-19, as noted by the World Health Organization on March 11, in Mexico there was not a formal declaration of a health emergency, until yesterday, despite the fact that the Mexican Constitution expressly states that in the event of serious epidemics the General Health Council (the “Council”), as the health authority, will have the obligation to dictate immediately the indispensable preventive measures for epidemics. The foregoing has led to a lack of coordination in recent weeks between the three levels of government and natural or legal persons in the social and private sectors, that provide health services and, therefore, the purpose of the National Health System results ineffective and it is not possible to act congruently with respect to COVID-19.
The Council is a collegiate body under the Mexican President in terms of Article 73, section XVI, base 1st. of the Mexican Constitution, and has the character of a health authority, with regulatory, consultative and executive functions. The provisions issued by the Council shall be of a general nature and obligatory in the whole country.
The Constituent Assembly, when incorporating the bases that created the Council and to the then called Health Department, took into consideration, among other issues: (i) the need to have bodies capable of reacting promptly and effectively to various health contingencies; (ii) that these bodies have the necessary means to react; and (iii) have the faculties to issue provisions of a binding nature for the whole nation without the intervention of any administrative authorities.
Yesterday, March 19th, the Council met in an extraordinary session, with the aim of adopting measures and plans for the protection of health against COVID-19, and with the purpose of ensuring that the objectives of the creation of the Council are met, since it must be understood that it has the constitutional power to regulate, within the scope of its constitutional faculties, the areas defined by the General Health Law as matters of general health so that the Mexican State, in a coordinated manner, can effectively and promptly meet the needs of the population through a highly specialized technical and scientific body.
Among the resolutions adopted yesterday in the extraordinary session of the Council, the following stand out: (i) The plenary session of the Council recognized the epidemic caused by COVID-19 in Mexico as a serious disease of priority attention; (ii) the Ministry of Health will establish the necessary measures for the prevention and control of the COVID-19 epidemic, in consensus with the members of the National Health System; and (ii) it was urged to define hospital reconversion plans and immediate expansion of capacity to guarantee timely attention to the cases of COVID-19.