Cosmetic Surgery-Linked Fungal Outbreak Triggers Alarm

Image copyright: National Cancer Institute [via Unsplash]

The Facts

  • On Friday, US and Mexican authorities urged the World Health Organization (WHO) to declare a public health emergency as almost 400 people are reportedly being monitored for cosmetic surgery-linked fungal meningitis connected to two clinics in the city of Matamoros.

  • According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as of Wednesday, two Americans who got surgeries in the northern Mexican border city under epidural anesthesia have died of fungal meningitis, with a further nine suspected and nine probable cases.

The Spin

Narrative A

Nearly a million Americans cross the border every year to travel to Mexico for low-cost cosmetic procedures such as liposuction, breast augmentation, and Brazilian butt lifts. However, such medical tourism should be regulated as most cosmetic surgeries require anesthetic injection into the area around the spinal column, and if contaminated medicines are used, as is sometimes the case, infection and post-procedure complications are devastating.

Narrative B

The US healthcare system is incredibly expensive, even for people with insurance, which is why Americans travel abroad for healthcare and cosmetic surgeries they can't afford at home. Since Mexico offers substantial savings to US patients, they are willing to assume the risks. Tragically, the absence of affordable and accessible medical services in the US continues pushing many Americans to endure complications, infections, inconvenience, and threats to life.

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