How Poverty Affects Health in Peru

April 14, 2010

What is the Health Care System in Peru?

Filed under: Uncategorized — ep257 @ 8:19 pm

The healthcare system in Peru is one of the most under funded in South America. Lack of resources and funds, poor management of resources, lack of medical attention in remote parts of the country and health problems associated with the El Niño phenomena are the healthcare challenges that Peru is facing.

What is the system?:

Healthcare in Peru today is the responsibility of both the Ministry of Health and ESSALUD. The former is responsible for providing a basic level of healthcare to those citizens who do not contribute to a state run healthcare plan, (or do not have, seguro). The latter is responsible for providing healthcare to those that have contributed to a healthcare plan, usually as part of an employment package. Formally managed, health care plans are unlikely to be seen for some time in Peru in light of the difficulties the government is seeing at the present, but for the same reason private healthcare plans are very popular amongst those who can afford them.

What is the Problems with the system?:

The biggest problem with the current healthcare system in Peru is simply lack of financial support and resources. Free healthcare is unheard of. Subsidized healthcare is available to those with no ‘seguro’, children, and pregnant women. Because so many of Peru’s population live below the poverty line, many still can’t afford simple healthcare even when it is subsidized by the government.

Another problem is that the funds and resources that are provided by the government have historically been mismanaged. Until 2003 all healthcare decisions for the entire country were managed from Lima. Healthcare planning for a large metropolis like Lima simply wasn’t adequate for other more rural areas of the country. Since 2003 a plan of decentralization has been adopted.

Who are suffering?:

The people in Peru that inevitably suffer the most are those with no money. The sad truth is that having no money means being denied basic healthcare.

Many of the poorest people in Peru live in the Andean Highlands or regions of the rainforest. Unfortunately it is here where health problems are more acute. The effects of El Niño are especially problematic. Unusual El Niño activity brings heavy rainfall in the Andean regions of Peru. Flood damage is bad enough but the aftermath of flooding brings diseases such as cholera and dysentery.

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