Before leaving your home country you have to gather information about your destination. In the case of Mexico City, I had no worries about the medical attention, because the infrastructure and services of the city have the standards of most English speaking countries.
Keep in mind that it is still important to get information in advance about the medical services and the options you have in case you get sick or have an accident. Also, you should contact your country’s embassy or consulates in Mexico City and Sectur, the national tourism bureau, for information on local hospitals.
Make sure to talk to your medical insurance provider to see if you are covered or can extend the coverage of your insurance to other countries. Some US and Canadian health plans provide (usually limited) health coverage in Mexico.
Another option is buying travelers insurances which in addition to medical emergencies covers assistance services such as lost of luggage, flight delay and more.
Traveling safety first!
Vaccinations: Routine vaccination for travelers is also recommended. Even if there are no required vaccinations, you should, speak, with your doctor to see if there is anything he/she recommends. Some of the routine vaccinations for travelers include tetanus, typhoid and hepatitis A and B. If you are visiting other areas of the country this may vary, so please double check with a doctor.
One of the real health hazards in Mexico City is Altitude Sickness. Since the city is over 7,000 feet = 2,300 meters over the sea level, it will take a day or two for your body to adjust. Watch for the symptoms: headaches, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, malaise, insomnia and loss of appetite. To lessen the chance of this, ascend gradually to higher altitudes, avoid overexertion, eat light meals and avoid alcohol. And of course, get medical attention if this problems persist or worsen.
If you need medical attention, first ask in the hotel reception if they have a house doctor or if they can recommend an English speaking one. Most medium and larger sized hospitals and clinics have someone that speaks english.
As language could be the key to life, there are also some organisations that work around the world to inform travelers about medical assistance. Such organisations include ONG, IAMAT (International Association for Medical Assistance to Travellers), founded by the Italian physician Vincenzo Marcolongo. The purpose of this organisation is to protect and improve the well-being of travelers with impartial health information and to give access to a worldwide network of English-speaking doctors committed to helping their members.
Being a member of this Organisation is free, but donations are welcome, so please help a little to preserve their services: www.iamat.org
Buying Medicines in Mexico
There are a tone of pharmacies all over the city… well all over the country. You will find one, almost every two blocks and some are open 24 hours. There are a lot of over the counter medicines like antacid and painkillers, however most regulated medicines do require a prescription from a doctor.
If you are in need of taking any medicine regularly for health issues make sure to bring enough for your trip and ask your doctor for the active component, because names may vary.
If you think you need something that is not sold over the counter, the recommendation is to see a local doctor and get a prescription. A couple of pharmacy chains have a doctor on site. They charge between 2 to 5 dollars (20 to 50 pesos). Please avoid self-medicating yourself.
In Mexico medical attention and medicines are less expensive than in most of the English speaking countries, specially when you compare with prices in the USA, Canada and Europe.
Other useful pages:
Mayo Clinic Care Network
Joint Commission International, JCI, http://es.jointcommissioninternational.org
Hospitals with the JCI:
The American British Cowdray Medical Center IAP
Santa Fe Campus Location
Observatorio Campus Location
Mexico City, Mexico
Puente de Piedra 150, Col. Toriello Guerra
Tlalpan, Distrito Federal 14050, Mexico
(52) 55 54247200
Special thanks to the cardiologist, Dr. Jaime Santiago, Dalinde Hospital, for the electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG). It’s good to know I’m healthy. His contact info: 52652900 ext. 2615