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Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública

On-line version ISSN 1680-5348Print version ISSN 1020-4989


BERNAL, Oscar; FORERO, Juan Camilo; VILLAMIL, María del Pilar  and  PINO, Rafael. Data availability and morbidity profile in Colombia. Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 2012, vol.31, n.3, pp.181-187. ISSN 1680-5348.

OBJECTIVE: To characterize morbidity in the Colombian population by diagnosis, sex, age, region, and health coverage system, and evaluate the availability and quality of information on diseases in the country. A descriptive, cross-sectional study to analyze morbidity treated in outpatient visits, hospitalization, and emergencies in Colombia during the 2004-2008 five-year period. METHODS: Based on Colombia's personal health records (Registro Individual de Prestación de Servicios-RIPS), diagnoses were classified according to World Health Organization cause groups. Each cause group for services utilization was differentiated by geographical region, sex, and type of affiliation to the health system. RESULTS: Communicable disease diagnoses were more concentrated in younger age groups, while noncommunicable diseases were more frequent in older age groups. External causes (accidents, self-inflicted injuries, and violence) were a major cause of morbidity and more frequently affected the population aged 5-44 years. Communicable diseases were more prevalent in females (39.98%) than in males (28%), while males were more affected by external causes than females (18.5% and 7.3%, respectively). CONCLUSIONS: Although diagnoses of noncommunicable diseases have increased in Colombia, infections continue to have an important presence in all age groups and health services delivery settings. This situation requires a review of health policies, not only to orient them toward improving the health of the population, but also toward bridging the services gap that exists among the country's different regions. Furthermore, although RIPS are a valuable source of health data, they need to be strengthened with a view to achieving information coverage for all or at least the vast majority of Colombians.

Keywords : Morbidity; information systems; diseases registries; medical records; Colombia.

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