Americans, in comparison to the Costa Ricans, enjoy a higher income and spend a major part of their earnings on healthcare. Then why is it that the residents of Costa Rica have a higher life expectancy than them? Public health and medical care in the United States are two separate enterprises. Costa Rica has led by example by integrating the two and the benefits are for everyone to see. Costa Rica spends much less on healthcare than the United States. Still, they have got better results. The brilliant turnaround by the country which once had an average life expectancy of thirty-five years has wowed everyone as now it’s almost eighty-one years. So, what’s the secret behind this? Find out.
Costa Rica’s Healthcare Sector Grew Faster Than Its Per Capita Income
In the 50s, 10 percent of the kids died within one year of taking birth, owing to conditions like birth complications, respiratory infections, as well as diarrheal illnesses. The high infant mortality rate in the country pushed the people into sadness. Not only the children, but even the young adults couldn’t survive to live long. Thirty-five years was the average life expectancy then.
Compared to the United States, it was thirteen years shorter. The income of a nation has a lot to do with its life expectancy. The per capita income of the United States is six times that of Costa Rica. The per capita healthcare expenses in Costa Rica happen to be a fraction of that in the United States. However, one fact that has placed the country ahead of the U.S. is that the improvement in the health sector of Costa Rica has been faster as compared to the nation’s increase in per capita income.
The Country Has Focused On Public Health
While life expectancy in Costa Rica has been recorded to be close to eighty-one years, it is below seventy-nine years in the United States. Experts have identified a key factor that has propelled the country forward. According to them, Costa Rica has integrated public health and medical care, an area where the United States is lagging. In its effort to improve the overall health of the population, the nation has placed public health at the core of medical care delivery.
In countries that are known to have quite a robust healthcare system in place, the treatment of ailments occupies the lion’s share of spending. Basically, public health is nothing more than an add-on. Costa Rica has focused more on public health and has reaped the benefits. The public health system in several economically rich countries has been exposed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Costa Rica has shown the way, thanks to its commitment to public health.
The Rural Infrastructure And Living Standards Are Improved
The country has done tremendous progress, building systems to focus more on healthcare and work on its commitment. Once upon a time, villages in Costa Rica, including Atenas, spent their days in extreme poverty. Telephones, radio, cars – all these were luxury items. In entire Costa Rica, not even half of the population had the proper facilities of running water or proper sanitation. This led to the rise in cases related to polio and illnesses linked to diarrhea and parasites. Children suffered from recurrent illnesses and malnutrition.
Since they didn’t have proper food to eat, their growth was hindered. Kids were forced to leave school before time. one-fourth of the girls were able to complete primary education. The scenario started to change from the 60s when families ultimately were able to pipe running water to their homes, got electrical wiring through the national power generation, and started to benefit from the national latrine campaign.
The Government Ran Various Drives And Campaigns
Gradually, polio, rubella, and diphtheria vaccination campaigns were conducted and a child nutrition program was rolled out. The best thing that happened was none of the families in the villages were deprived of nutrition anymore. The families slowly started sending their children to school. An official was deployed by the Ministry of Health in almost every community.
The staff and resources started working on areas like malnutrition, sanitary issues, outbreaks of infectious diseases, toxic hazards, and others. Local units that looked after public health started operating in parallel with a newly-built health system. The focus was entirely on addressing individual medical needs.
Public health is almost exhausted in the United States. On the other hand, Costa Rica has successfully prioritized the sector and the results are in front of the whole world.