Colombia Table of Contents

In 1988 most Colombians enjoyed significantly better health care and nutrition than previous generations. The country had risen from the ranks of the poorest nations in Latin America during the 1950s and 1960s to an intermediate status in the 1980s, according to health indicators. These improvements were the result of rapid socioeconomic modernization, which was accompanied by improvements in education and working conditions; greater access to urban health care facilities, running water, and sewerage systems; and more modern attitudes toward sexuality, medicine, disease prevention, nutrition, and exercise. There were also explicit state policies designed to improve access to and availability of health care and medical services. In the 1970s and 1980s, Colombia developed a public and private infrastructure of hospitals and other health care facilities, a widespread network of medical schools, and a specialized set of institutions responsible for formulating and handling public policy in the health sector.

Despite general improvement, the benefits of better health care in 1988 were not evenly distributed among the different strata and regions of Colombian society. Urban areas, the upper and middle classes, blue-collar workers, and the central Andean region enjoyed above-average health conditions. In contrast, the rural and urban poor suffered from higher mortality and morbidity rates because of inadequate or inaccessible medical services, housing, and food. In the late 1980s, Colombian health policy makers were faced with the task of improving services to the least-favored segments of society, while improving the quality and overall performance of the national health care system.

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Source: U.S. Library of Congress