Mexico faces an ‘epidemiological emergency’ due to an immense burden of obesity and diabetes. With national elections just around the corner on 1 July, civil society organisation (CSO) Mexico Salud-Hable has been taking a bold and innovative approach to ensuring that health features squarely on candidates’ manifestos – highlighting the importance of health policies and NCDs.
Mexico Salud-Hable noted that candidates’ manifestos were very weak on the importance of creating a healthy environment to prevent and manage NCDs, with little mention of key issues ranging from access to healthy foods to creation of safe public spaces for physical activity. The coalition set out to carefully document different candidates’ positions on these urgent health priorities.
"We reiterate to the candidates the immense need to include in their electoral platform the development of comprehensive and intensive campaigns that protect the population from the four factors risk factors that trigger noncommunicable diseases: smoking, harmful alcohol consumption, unhealthy diet and physical inactivity." - Mayra Galindo Leal, Director General of the Mexican Association for the Fight Against Cancer.
The CSO has called on candidates to explicitly address NCD risk factors in their manifestos, and is urging them to commit to:
- Comply fully with the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, given that its application in Mexico has stagnated since 2011. This will avoid the early death of 66,000 people from causes associated with tobacco use.
- Reduce the prevalence of alcohol consumption, which has increased in the last 10 years. 1.8 million people in Mexico suffer from alcohol dependence, out of which 115,000 are adolescents.
- Promote and strengthen a comprehensive policy agenda on obesity prevention, including internationally supported policies such as taxation, child-targeted marketing restrictions, front-of-package labelling regulation and healthy food environments in schools.
- Commit to greater accountability and multisectorial mechanisms to track progress on NCDs.
"We reiterate to the candidates the immense need to include in their electoral platform the development of comprehensive and intensive campaigns that that protect the population from the four factors risk factors that trigger noncommunicable diseases: smoking, harmful alcohol consumption, unhealthy diet and physical inactivity," said Mayra Galindo Leal, Director General of the Mexican Association for the Fight Against Cancer.
The strategy seems to be having an impact. Advocates report that candidates are now talking more about NCDs and the need to tackle their main risk factors.
The Coalición México Salud-Hable, founded in 2013, is an alliance of over 100 member CSOs, patient groups, research agencies, medical professional bodies and women’s and children’s rights organisations. Along with four other national NCD alliances, it is supported by the NCD Alliance through the Accelerator Programme, which provides grants and technical assistance.