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HEALTH FIRST | OP-ED

The Latin American scene regarding public spending on health because of the pandemic, what needs to be done?

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We are optimistic that the world has made progress in reducing premature deaths and transmitted diseases by increasing life expectancy, according to the World Health Statistics 2020 report: monitoring health for the SDG (Sustainable Development Goals, from the World Health Organization [WHO]).

However, we also find how risk factors like obesity, unfavorable conditions due to environmental pollution, mental health carelessness, the increase in violence, natural disasters, among others, have also grown. In that way, we need in-depth work to mitigate these problems because they directly affect people’s quality of life.

In line with the National Association of Entrepreneurs (ANDI in Spanish) and the University of Antioquia in Colombia, while Uruguay, Costa Rica, Colombia and Argentina prevented their citizens from incurring big expenses during the pandemic, Mexico, Peru, Ecuador and Brazil registered people who sold their properties to cover those expenses.

As defined in the study, it is discussed “how, in Latin American countries, the problem of the pandemic has been faced in terms of expenses, especially in relation to Government spending and out-of-pocket expenses”.

Accordingly, the WHO points out that in Latin America, while 12% of the population spends 10% of their family budget on health services, for some families such care meant falling into extreme poverty.

The ANDI and the University of Antioquia state that public spending in Colombia was addressed to the adequacy of the hospital sector, Covid-19 patients’ care and vaccination.

Therefore, it is not surprising the World Bank states high-income countries have 15 times more doctors than low-income countries, where there are gaps in the professionals of related careers in terms of the relevance of their skills.

We were able to conclude that the path to proper health management requires more than adequate technology. An ecosystem adapted to needs, robust information systems, and trained talent in areas like administration, marketing, statistics, finance, engineering, and communications with emphasis in health; professionals capable of innovating for the sustainability and equity of the system are fundamental.

Another factor that must be resolved ―also referred to in the ANDI study― has to do with the vaccination programs in children and chronic patients’ care, as they were relegated by the pandemic, excluding services and key procedures for population health.

(*) Doctor in Pedagogy. Rector of the Colombian School of Rehabilitation (ECR). [email protected]

 

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