JLN Champion -Spotlighting Adolfo Martinez Valle, Universal Health Coverage Champion

JLN Network Manager

Throughout my nearly 25-year professional career in public health, I have faced achievements and challenges as a champion of Universal Health Coverage (UHC). In my own country, Mexico, I oversaw planning and evaluation agencies for designing and implementing national health and social protection policies, including the 16-year-old insurance scheme targeted to the population not covered by social security -Seguro Popular and the 22-year-old conditional cash transfer program – Progresa/Oportunidades/Prospera. These programs, despite being recently cancelled, were instrumental in significantly reducing out-of-pocket and catastrophic expenditures, a testament to my expertise in financial management. They also played a crucial role in diminishing child and maternal mortality, improving access to health services and nutrition, and reducing extreme poverty.

The most recent change in government in Mexico also left me needing a policymaker or implementer space to pursue further UHC in my own country. I overcame this challenge by continuing my academic career, which I began nearly twenty years earlier when I earned my doctoral degree at the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health. I have been a professor and researcher at the National University of Mexico for the past five years, where I have published evidence on improving health systems’ performance.

On the global stage, I have been an active and dedicated member of the Joint Learning Network for Universal Health Coverage (JLN) since 2015. This platform, which I am deeply committed to, has provided me with the opportunity to share my health policy experiences with a diverse range of members. I am particularly proud of my service on its Steering Committee, where I had the privilege of chairing it as the Convener from 2018 to 2021.

One of my most memorable experiences was participating in a 2016 Kosovo workshop funded by the World Bank, where I collaborated with colleagues from Ghana and the Philippines. Back then, we were able to offer valuable insights on our experiences implementing national insurance schemes in our respective countries, which proved to be highly relevant to the health care reform efforts in Kosovo.

Affordable quality care for everyone still needs to be achieved in my country, Latin America, and many other countries, including the JLN members. Mexico needs to rebuild its health system after suffering significant setbacks caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and a negligent federal government. Out-of-pocket expenditures are still high, public financing needs to be more efficient, and the Ministry of Health needs to be stronger. Fortunately, windows of opportunity still exist in the academic setting and through the JLN, where I can help set the path toward UHC both in my country and abroad.

Adolfo Martinez Valle is a JLN Country Core Group (CCG) Member, Director General, Performance Evaluation, Ministry of Health, Mexico