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Gaceta Sanitaria

Print version ISSN 0213-9111

Abstract

FIGUERAS, J; MUSGROVE, P; CARRIN, G  and  DURAN, A. Challenges to Latin-American health systems: what can be learned from the European experience?. Gac Sanit [online]. 2002, vol.16, n.1, pp. 5-17. ISSN 0213-9111.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0213-91112002000100003.

This article compares the challenges of health systems in Latin America and the experience in Europe. The framework is the analysis of four functions: a) to generate resources; b) to produce activities; c) to finance, and d) to exercise stewardship. It is at this level where actors can influence health system responsiveness.  Five challenges are identified in Latin America: a) to extend (prepayment and solidarity) financial protection; b) to stabilise that protection for crisis times; c) to equilibrate resources in accordance to capacity for financing services; d) to increase efficiency (technical and of placement) to produce services, and e) to improve the stewardship function in public and private sectors (the most important and difficult challenge Latin-American systems have nowadays).  The experience of reform in Europe is analysed, showing: a) experiences about financial protection in Beveridge and Bismarck systems; b) stability in crisis times, recently confirm (West) and with important obstacles (East); c) efforts to equilibrate hospital beds and health care professionals, combining regulation and incentives; d) increase of efficiency in services production, with more express prioritisation, empowering patients, decentralising management and with market incentives, and e) improvement of stewardship with better (not less, sometimes even more) regulation.  Three areas of European experience stand out: a) to combine solidarity with financial sustainability; b) to introduce market incentives in a measured way, but maintaining a clear stewardship role for the state, and c) to adopt innovations in organising and producing services.  In spite of methodological difficulties, convergence of challenges and adopted solutions justify this analysis, but learning must be seen in each national context. A future article will analyse lessons offered by reform in Latin-American systems for European reforms. 

Keywords : Health care systems; Health reforms; Latin American; Europe; Challenges; Lessons; Comparison.

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