Mérida, Yucatán — It’s not just the streets that go quiet when the World Cup is on.
When the Mexican national team is live on TV, emergency rooms in clinics and hospitals are practically empty.
“Coincidentally, when Mexico has played, emergency cases are drastically reduced. We can talk about up to 40 percent less on average. It seems that soccer ‘cures’ ailments or at least makes them more bearable,” said David Canché Durán, a pediatric surgeon who works in a public hospital.
On a typical day, emergency rooms serve an average of 80 people per shift.
Low demand for medical care is just as well — it’s hard to get doctors and nurses to work during Mexico’s air time. Many have changed their schedules, even if it means working nights, to enjoy El Tri on TV.
The fact that people can put off ER visits underscores how patients misuse the service, presenting ailments that don’t warrant emergency-room care.
“There are more important things. It cannot be that for a football game you stop going to the service,” he said.
The pediatrician also said that many patients skip medical appointments that in some public institutions are scheduled months in advance.
“They prefer to miss important medical evaluations, in order to enjoy the games of Mexico in the World Cup. This phenomenon also occurs at Christmas and New Year’s, since with the payment of Christmas bonuses people forget their ailments,” said Canché Durán.