02.03.01. Size and structure of the workforce | Mexico

02.03.01. Size and structure of the workforce | Mexico

12 Jul 2022

The supply of health workers in Mexico has increased over the past decade, but remains low by OECD standards, in particular the number of nurses. The lack of health workforce puts a lot of pressure on the healthcare system and it endangers its potential to provide quality services. In addition, scarce data is published in Mexico about the state of medical specialists in order to inform the design of policies for training and management of human resources for health.

The only official statistics available show a rate of 2.4 medical doctors and 2.9 nurses per 1 000 inhabitants in Mexico for the year 2017 (DGIS, 2017). These figures are similar to those reported by the OECD (OECD Health Statistics, n.d., accessed 22 June 2019).

In 2017, it was estimated that there was a total of 147,910 specialist physicians in Mexico, for a total population of 123.5 million, a rate of 119 specialist per 100 000 population. Of this total, 69% had current specialty certification and showed a highly unequal distribution among the country with 54% of the total concentrated in Mexico City and in the States of Mexico, Jalisco, and Nuevo León. On average, there were 1.7 male specialists per female specialist physicians (Heinze-Martin et al., 2018). On the other hand, there were 16,895 family physicians[1] or 14 per 100,000 population in 2017 (Heinze-Martin et al., 2018) and 36,184 general practitioners in 2015 or 29 per 100,000 population (DGIS, 2017).

Regarding specialities more relevant to all forms of dementia, there were 422 Geriatricians, 1,345 Neurologists (adult and paediatric), 2992 Cardiologists (adult and paediatric) and 4,429 Psychiatrists in the whole country in 2017. It was estimated that there were 3.25 Geriatricians per 100,000 individuals aged 60 years and older, 3.4 Psychiatrists and 2.2 Cardiologists per 100,000 individuals (Heinze-Martin et al., 2018).

While the General Direction of Health Information, DGIS (Dirección General de Información en Salud) at the Ministry of Health reports data on other professional personnel in their official statistics on human resources, these only cover chemists, biologists, pharmacologists, nutritionists, psychologists, and social workers. Other professions such as occupational therapists and community health workers are not defined currently as part of the public and social security health care institutions’ professional health workers.

[1] Family medicine is also a specialisation in Mexico obtained after the general physician/practitioner diploma.


DGIS. (2017). Recursos en salud.

Heinze-Martin, G., Olmedo-Canchola, V. H., Bazán-Miranda, G., Bernard-Fuentes, N. A., & Guízar-Sánchez, D. P. (2018). Medical specialists in Mexico. Gaceta Medica de Mexico, 154(3), 342–351. https://doi.org/10.24875/GMM.18003770

OECD. (n.d.). Health Statistics. https://www.oecd.org/health/health-statistics.htm