Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública
On-line version ISSN 1680-5348
Print version ISSN 1020-4989
ROSENBERG, Hernán and ANDERSSON, Bernt. Rethinking social protection in health in Latin America and the Caribbean. Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 2000, vol.8, n.1-2, pp.118-125. ISSN 1680-5348. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1020-49892000000700016.
Despite what is written in the constitutions and other basic document mandates of the countries of the Region, exclusion from social protection in health (SPH) affects an important proportion of the population (at least 20%, which represents, in absolute figures, between 80 and 200 million people). These estimates are obtained through a series of theoretical (social security coverage) and practical indicators that encompass structural indicators (poverty, ethnicity, and geographical barriers) as well as process indicators (non-institutional births, compliance with vaccination schedules, and access to basic sanitation). Exclusion levels in a society are affected by the degree of segmentation of the health system. Traditionally, most countries of the Region have had a public, a social security and a private subsystem in health. Lack of attention to the problem has resulted in the formation of a community-based subsystem. The coexistence of many subsystems, along with poor regulation on the part of health authorities, has resulted in high levels of exclusion and inefficient resource allocation within the sector. The organization of social dialogue processes focusing on SPH within the context of health sector reform initiatives in each country is recommended. The process, which should be participatory, should include a full diagnosis of the situation (how many are excluded, who are they, and why, and what mechanisms are the most appropriate for tackling the issue in each country). It should also provide a political and technical feasibility analysis of the most suitable options for each society, and a determination of whether or not conventional subsystems have exhausted their potential. The process should culminate in a program for implementing the specific proposals made in each society, in an effort to maximize SPH.