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Shortage of cancer medications for children sparks protests

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Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Born in Mérida, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht is a Mexican/Canadian blogger, photographer and adventure expedition leader. He holds degrees in multimedia, philosophy and translation from universities in Mexico, Canada and Norway. Sign up for the Yucatán Roundup, a free newsletter, which delivers the week's top headlines every Monday.
Protestors in Yucatán deny political motives, insisting that all they want is medication and treatment for their children. Photo: Courtesy

Parents of children with cancer gathered at Mérida’s Monumento a la Patria on Wednesday to protest a lack of oncological medications at public hospitals.

They held signs reading slogans that translated into English as “Cancer is not in quarantine” and “The shortage is real.”

Similar protests were held in Cancún, Guadalajara, Mexico City, and Puebla.

An estimated 600 children may have died over the last two years due to a lack of treatment.

Critics of the current administration argue that shortages began when the federal government shut down Mexico’s only manufacturer of cancer medications, citing corruption, but without a clear plan of how to replace them. 

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has largely downplayed the issue and has assured the families that the medications will be on their way shortly. He offered no specific details

Earlier: Pandemic interrupts children’s cancer shelter barely a month after it opens

Mexico’s health undersecretary, Hugo López-Gatell Ramírez recently came under fire for claiming that political motives were behind the claims of parents unable to procure treatment for their children. 

Parents say that the cancer treatments they have been able to get hold of have been procured through private foundations, not the public health sector. 

“The state government of Yucatán has been helping quite a bit to pick up the slack. We are doing the best we can to get treatments to the children who need them, but they are very expensive and our resources limited,” said Marissa Goof, president of Asociación Mexicana para la Ayuda de Niños con Cáncer (AMANC).

Acquiring cancer medications for children in Mexico has become so expensive and difficult, that some families have opted to travel to Guatemala so that their children are able to receive the treatment they need at private hospitals.

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