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PAHO calls to prioritize expenditures for primary health care

Santiago de Chile, May 8 (Prensa Latina) Participating in the 36th Fiscal Policy Seminar, which is being held today in Chile, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) called on the countries of the region to increase spending on primary health care.

James Fitzgerald, PAHO’s director of systems and services, said that investment in this sector is the most effective in terms of results, because up to 80 percent of health problems can be solved there.

Greater fiscal priority, oriented to the first level of care in underdeveloped countries, should produce important indicators, he said.

He explained that there are many diseases that can be treated, such as respiratory, renal and vascular infections, and thus avoid the costs of hospitalization.

Fitzgerald was speaking at the seminar on tax policy organized by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), with the participation of finance ministers from 13 countries, experts from international organizations, civil society and academia.

The event was inaugurated on Monday by ECLAC’s Executive Secretary, José Manuel Salazar-Xirinachs, who warned that the region is facing a difficult scenario due to low economic growth and pressures to contain public spending and pay the rising interest rates on foreign debt.

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

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