Mexico City has a large number of public and private hospitals, including the oldest hospital in the Western Hemisphere. Cortés founded the Jesus of Nazareth Hospital early in the sixteenth century.
The city has 66 general hospitals, 47 specialized hospitals, more than 7,000 clinics, 542 surgical rooms, 286 clinical analysis laboratories, and more than 18,000 hospital beds. Many health facilities are operated by the government and provide basic health care for the city's poor.
While the city has improved sanitary standards, the population faces daunting problems. In the first six months of 1999, the city reported 1.1 million cases of respiratory problems caused by air pollution. That marked a 37 percent decrease for the same time period in 1998 when 1.7 million cases were reported. Diarrhea also was down by 49 percent. In 1998, 489,000 cases were reported compared to 252,000 for the same period in 1999.