President Evo Morales announced plans on Wednesday for the establishment of a free healthcare model “for the people” Bolivia.
Morales called for a meeting with the country’s social movements and institutions to gather input on the new model.
“We are going to debate with social movements, with institutions and all sectors to reach a new system where brothers and sisters can easily access (healthcare)”, said Morales, during a contract signing ceremony for a new hospital in the town of Coripata, at the Government Palace in north La Paz.
During his speech, the president reported that the country’s 2016-2020 social-economic development plan aims to achieve universal access to health, with 200 projects underway in order to achieve this.
Con inversión en salud hemos bajado tasa de mortalidad y ampliado expectativa de vida. Podemos mejorar más. Convocamos a Encuentro Nacional por Salud y Vida, a trabajar juntos, debatir entre tod@s nuevo sistema de salud, sin discriminación, negligencia, mercantilismo, ni racismo. pic.twitter.com/2g1lGMGssz— Evo Morales Ayma (@evoespueblo) December 27, 2017
The plan also aims to complete the construction of about 50 hospitals in nine departments, including four that specialize in oncology, gastroenterology, cardiology and nephrology, estimated to cost US$1.7 billion dollars.
"Above the demands is the right to life," added Morales, lamenting the current strikes being held by some doctors in the country for the past 35 days, who, Morales said, are trying to privatize healthcare by halting the government policies aimed at improving the public system.
The Bolivian leader also recalled the progress made in the country’s healthcare in the last 12 years.
In September, Bolivia’s government announced it had slashed chronic malnutrition in children under five years old by almost half, with a reduction in cases from 32.3 percent to 16 percent. That same month, the country’s health ministry also achieved a remarkable 52 percent reduction in infant mortality between 2008 to 2016.
Additionally, under the “My Health” program — launched by Morales in June 2013 — all healthcare treatment is already provided free of charge for residents in some of Bolivia’s poorest communities. The main beneficiaries are patients on low incomes who would otherwise not be able to pay to see the doctor and get prescription medication.
Over the last four years, doctors have seen more than 7.8 million patients and saved more than 17,000 lives.