El Salvador will have new health policy
For many years, Salvadorans have suffered the grave deficiencies of the National Health System, however, this situation could turn 360 degrees over the short to medium term due to the creation of new health policies.
After 5 days of intense discussions, the Ministry of Health (MSPAS) will set out a new project of public health policies that will promote social participation. “It’s a new conception of how a health system should be organized and administered to serve the population better and to have a social audit,” explained the Vice minister of Health, Eduardo Espinoza.
One of the major problems that was identified is the lack of health care coverage. The Ministry should cover more than 80% of the country but this is not achieved in reality.
“There is a problem in bringing health care to the last corner, to the small towns and villages, but with a focus on the right to health there doesn’t have to be one Salvadoran with out attention,” assured the Vice minister of Health, Violeta Menjivar.
Other problems of the Health System are the continued scarcity of medicines, the low quality of attention, and long waits for surgery appointments, as well as the very low public investment in health.
“The investment in resources is barely 1.5% of the gross domestic product and it is not possible to provide quality health coverage to everyone with such a low investment,” the Vice minister pointed out.
However the outlook is encouraging after ten international specialists in public health met with Ministry authorities to debate the restructuring the National Health System.
After reaching a consensus, the new policy was established on four fundamental pillars: the first, the the concept of the right to health of all Salvadorans.
“Here health is no longer considered a commodity, like the object of privatization. On the contrary, it must be considered a fundamental human and social right guaranteed by the state,” indicated the representative of the Andean Organization of Health and ex Minister of Health of Venezuela, Oscar Feo.
The second element is social participation through intersectoriality. According to Feo, health problems do not only depend upon the Health Ministry but also all other public institutions.
The last pillar is the network of integrated services (water, housing, environment) that contribute to a healthy population.
“The new government has identified the problem and has designed a policy the helps raise health expenditure,” declared the Venezuelan.
According to many Salvadoran doctors, during the ARENA party administrations too much was invested in curative attention while prevention and health promotion were left on the sidelines. The representative of the People’s Health Movement of Latin America, Maria Hamlin Zúniga stressed that the Ministry is changing course from a Ministry that thought only about sickness to one that really deals with the health and wellness of the people.” To do this it is necessary to involve communities in health education. For example, the Associations of Community Economic and Social Development (ADESCO) can be health promoters in their own localities.
“When young people understand more about their bodies and the life conditions that cause sickness, then there will be a healthier population,” affirmed Hamlin.
With the new health policy the authorities are betting on illness prevention and health promotion to avoid, as much as possible, the saturation of services with preventable problems.
The health proposal with be presented in two weeks to the Council of Ministers for their endorsement.
Note: The international specialists were
1) Oscar Feo Istúriz (Secretario Ejecutivo del Organismo Andino de Salud, ORAS)
2) Patricia Jimenez, Especialista en Micro, Virología y profesora de la Escuela de salud
Pública de Cuba
3) Francoise Barten (Profesora del Instituto Nijmegen de Salud Internacional, Holanda),
4) Fernando Borgia (Coordinador Región Cono Sur Asociación Latinoamericana de
Medicina Social (ALAMES), Uruguay)
5) Nila Heredia, ex Ministra de Salud de Bolivia
6) Laura Nervi, Especialista en Cooperación Externa y Participación Social, USA
7) Juan Luis Uría, Organización para la defensa de la salud pública (OP), inspector médico
del departamento de sanidad del Gobierno Vasco.
8) José María Ostolaza. Director General del Servicio Cantabro de Salud
9) María Hamlin Zúniga, Movimiento por la Salud de los Pueblos, CISAS Nicaragua.
10) Arturo Quizhpe, Universidad de Cuenca, Ecuador