Virtual Regional Seminar "Comparative experiences of health system reforms in Latin America"
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The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the structural weaknesses of Latin American countries’ health systems, deepening the region’s health inequalities. Chronic underfunding, segmentation, and fragmentation of health systems in the region result in shortcomings that may be observed in insufficient human resources, infrastructure, and technologies, alongside a low capacity to lead change due to weaknesses in leadership and weak financial protection (ECLAC/PAHO, 2021).
ECLAC has emphasized the need to restructure health systems, with financial sustainability, as a basis for the formulation of public policies that support countries towards more advanced health systems, which are universal, comprehensive, resilient, and sustainable and that allow guaranteed access to all people. This, in recognition of the close relationship that exists between health and the possibilities of growth, development, and well-being of the countries. Consequently, ECLAC has raised the need to increase public investment in health and guide it towards the restructuring of health systems, which, according to the reality of each country, may act as strengthening, reforming, or transforming the structures of the health system. This would contribute decisively to sustainable social development (CEPAL, 2022).
Although these problems have been observed with greater intensity during the COVID-19 pandemic, they are not new obstacles but rather historical challenges common to most Latin American countries. To overcome these barriers, various countries in the region have carried out reforms and restructuring of their health systems, with different emphases, objectives and at different historical moments. This workshop aims to learn about and discuss the main objectives of the reforms made to health systems in Latin America, reflecting together with the authorities and/or specialists who oversaw the implementation of the reforms, on the main challenges that had to be faced in their different stages and a brief evaluation of their results, highlighting the most important lessons learned. This discussion will emphasize the most important lessons learned from these processes that could be useful for the reform of the Chilean health system that is currently under discussion.