The Necessity of Universal Health Care
The biggest health challenge for Latin America and the Caribbean isn’t a single disease or condition, and it won’t be solved by aiming money at a single risky behavior. The biggest challenge is that people do not always get the healthcare they need.
Many people live far from a health care provider, and distance costs both time and money. Moreover, cultural barriers reduce the wellbeing of those who do not speak the dominant language, especially indigenous communities. In other cases, people don’t realize they need care, or don’t follow a doctor’s directions when they do. Similarly, mistaken beliefs are often a problem: for example, diabetes is referred to colloquially as “sugar,” and diabetics can erroneously believe that curbing sugar intake is the only thing they need to do.
Finance is another great barrier. In Mexico, before recent reforms, 2-4 million households either spent 30% or more of their disposable income or fell below the poverty line because of catastrophic health spending. Others simply do without needed care.