LUIS ANTONIO RAMÍREZ PINEDA

Mexico 2020 | HEALTH & EDUCATION | INTERVIEW

As a comprehensive social security institution, ISSSTE's goal is to provide a healthcare service that is more effective, empathic, and kinder by the day.

Luis Antonio Ramírez Pineda
BIOGRAPHY

Luis Antonio Ramírez Pineda is the Director General of ISSSTE. He has overseen a wide array of public sector roles throughout his career. He has a degree in economy from ITAM and a masters in social and public policy from London School of Economics. He previously participated in the international meeting for economists organized by the Cuban government.

What is your vision for ISSSTE?
ISSSTE is Mexico's second-largest social security institution. We serve and protect 13.5 million entitlement holders, or one in 10 Mexicans. In 2020, ISSSTE is commemorating its 60th anniversary by transforming itself to serve better. We provide health services, pensions, housing credits, personal loans, childcare facilities, social tourism, sports facilities, day centers, a spa, a convive center, and stores for basic staples supply at reasonable prices, and even an administrator of retirement funds. My vision is to provide our entitlement holders with insurance, services, and benefits established by law, and to do so at high-quality standards, under a constant process of quality improvement and with our entitlement holders at the very center of all our activities and goals, in an environment of solid finances and with a steady effort to move toward a preventive healthcare model.

What are your main priorities and objectives?
I have defined three main objectives for ISSSTE. First, to improve the quality of services we provide, with a kinder, more respectful approach toward state workers and their families. Second, we aim to evolve our healthcare model toward prevention instead of our current curative approach. Third, we want to consolidate long-term finances as the foundation for proper protection and support for our entitlement holders. To achieve these objectives, we must continue with the extensive reorganization already in process. A top priority is to invest more in training for our people, especially those that directly deal with the public, and to recover a sense of purpose and social responsibility. We shall achieve high standards so that we provide a healthcare service that is more effective, empathic, and kinder by the day.

In what ways has the COVID-19 pandemic changed the model and vision of the Mexican public health system?
It has been a tremendous challenge for us all. It has showed us that in times of emergency, our greatest asset remains our people, who are determined to serve, help, and reach out to others in need. They are serving beyond duty. We also have a number of health workers over 60, and we gave them the opportunity to protect themselves at home. As expected, the emergency exposed our weaknesses in infrastructure, equipment, processes, protocols, and personnel. All are consequences of years of underinvestment, and at times even neglect. Corruption and waste of resources were problems that we are fully determined to eliminate. We remain fully committed to this objective, and we are confident we shall prevail in this demanding hour. Obviously, no healthcare system in the world was fully prepared to face this pandemic, but clearly, we must consolidate a health system fully grounded in the idea of education for a healthy life and in prevention.

What has been ISSSTE's greatest contribution when it comes to the pandemic?
Our greatest effort has been providing healthcare services and other social services while tackling the needs of COVID-19 patients. Since January, we started with preventive and educational messages related to the disease and how to better protect ourselves. We have been able to guarantee a regular supply of safety equipment for our health personnel and quickly respond to most of their concerns. In 2019, we worked on transforming ISSSTE in two new areas: planning and supervision. During the pandemic, some of the fruits of these new areas became apparent, namely having data and precise information for decision making, from the diagnosis of our capabilities and weaknesses to face the emergency to a proper evaluation of the allocation of resources and the definition of a route to follow. Furthermore, ISSSTE has been providing health services to all Mexicans during the COVID-19 emergency, even if they are not entitlement holders. We are fully determined to contribute to the national effort to overcome the emergency, and we shall succeed.