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Costa Rica’s Primary Health Care Approach Can Serve As Model For Countries Pursuing Universal Health Coverage

Project Syndicate: What Happens When Primary Health Care Is Universal?
Asaf Bitton, director of primary health care at Ariadne Labs, a joint center of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, and Madeline Pesec, primary health care researcher at Ariadne Labs

“…Costa Rica, a middle-income country that is committed to universal health care for its people, produces better health outcomes, while spending less than most other countries in the world. In fact, Costa Rica has achieved the third-highest life expectancy in the Americas – behind only Canada and Bermuda, and well ahead of the United States. The secret of its success is revealed in our new report, ‘Building a Thriving Primary Health-Care System: The Story of Costa Rica.’ … Over the past 20 years, Costa Rica’s Department of Social Security has built a primary health care system that today reaches nearly every person in the country. Primary providers are the first place Costa Ricans turn when they have a health problem, as practitioners offer acute, chronic, and preventive services. … As countries pursue universal health coverage, they will need proven ways to bring higher quality, more affordable care to the underserved. Costa Rica offers one successful approach. By placing primary health care at the center of the system, the country has improved coverage rates and outcomes, while delivering more personalized treatment…” (1/18).