Bolivia joins the Universal Free Health System
27 febrero 2019

Under the recommendations of the WHO, and in coincidence with the trend registered in Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay, Costa Rica, and El Salvador, Bolivia enacted on February 20 the Law of the Unified Health System (SUS), which will enter into force on March 1, and whose main purpose will be to provide comprehensive care free of charge to the all bolivian citizenship. When SUS services are implemented, public centers and hospitals will have drugs, the direct purchase of which will be approved by decree, while the renewal of equipment and hiring of personnel will be done in the medium and long term.

According to Health Minister Gabriela Montaño, the target population is those between the ages of 5 and 59. Before this law in the country, there was only free medical care for minors, pregnant women, the elderly and the disabled. The law aims to affiliate more than 5 million people, according to estimates by the Ministry of Health. Everyone will have access to 1,200 medical services at no cost, from consultations to drugs.

In this regard, the WHO representative, Fernando Leanes, stressed that “Bolivia celebrates the enactment of the SUS Law, a legal instrument that directs the country towards universal health”. He also stressed that the system will consolidate the budgetary priority that health has gained in Bolivia in recent years, pointing out that spending in this sector had reached an all-time high of 4.6% in 2016, and that with the SUS it will rise this year to 5.1%. “We think that’s a reasonable figure,” said Leanes, predicting that Bolivia will reach in the short term the goal of an investment in health equivalent to 6% of GDP, recommended by the WHO. For the start of the plan, the government has programmed this year 200 million dollars and the immediate hiring of 8,000 doctors. It should be noted that other nations that already have a system similar to that of Bolivia are: Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay, Costa Rica, and El Salvador.