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PAHO calls to prioritize expenditures for primary care at ECLAC forum

Santiago, Chile, May 8 (Prensa Latina) The Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) called on the countries of the region to increase expenditures on primary care on Wednesday, at the 36th Fiscal Policy Seminar being held in Chile.

PAHO Systems and Services Director James Fitzgerald estimated that investment in the sector is the most effective in terms of results, because up to 80 percent of health problems can be solved there.

A greater fiscal priority, aimed at the first level of health care in low-developed countries should produce important indicators, he explained, adding that there are many diseases, such as respiratory, kidney, and vascular infections, that can be treated, thereby avoiding the costs of hospitalization.

When three, four and even five percent of the Gross Domestic Product is allocated to this service, the availability of resources for health care, education, infrastructure, social policies and other key areas is reduced, he pointed out.

Fitzgerald spoke at the seminar on tax policy organized by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), at which ministers of Treasury and Finance from 13 countries, experts from international organizations, civil society and academia participated.

The event was inaugurated on Monday by ECLAC Executive Secretary José Manuel Salazar-Xirinachs, who warned that the region is going through a difficult situation due to low economic growth and pressure to contain public expenditures and pay the rise in interest on the external debt.

ECLAC called to increase the availability of funds by raising tax collection and its progressiveness to reduce social inequalities.

jg/llp/jha/car

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