Posts

7 Facts About Healthcare in ParaguayIn recent years, Paraguay has improved its infant mortality rate, healthcare facility spending and health care resources. Yet, there is still much to do to improve healthcare in Paraguay. Here are seven ways the Paraguayan government is working to improve healthcare in Paraguay.

7 Facts about Healthcare in Paraguay

  1. Paraguay has far fewer healthcare workers than needed to provide adequate care for patients in rural areas. In fact, 70% of healthcare workers are allocated in the city of Asunción despite only 30% of the population living in that area.
  2. The World Bank approved a loan to Paraguay to help improve its healthcare structure. In May of 2019, the World Bank approved a $115 million loan to allow Paraguay to develop health treatments for mothers, newborn children and people who suffer from chronic health conditions. With the help of this loan, the quality of healthcare will increase in Paraguay in the coming years.
  3. The current life expectancy for people in Paraguay is 74.1 years. In 1990, the life expectancy in Paraguay was 68.5 years. Innovations in medicine, an increase in healthcare spending and resources have all contributed to the increase in the Paraguayan life expectancy. Although Paraguay has increased its life expectancy in the last 30 years, the country still has a long way to go to meet the life expectancy of more developed nations.
  4. The average amount spent on healthcare per capita in Paraguay is cause for great concern. In 2017, the average healthcare spending per capita for one year was $381. This number is a fraction of what developed nations spend on healthcare. As middle and lower-income Paraguans do not have the financial resources to pay for healthcare, they do not go to doctors or hospitals unless it is necessary. Lack of doctor visits and preventative care will cause further health issues and the onset of chronic health conditions for Paraguans in the future.
  5. Paraguay has very few hospital beds compared to the beds needed to care for the sick population. Paraguay has about one hospital bed per 1000 people, which is almost a third of the hospital beds the United States has. Having enough hospital beds is essential to caring for the vulnerable population, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Paraguay is in urgent need of more hospitals. Paraguay is building contingent hospitals to help care for more sick patients, but these hospitals will only help with the hospital bed shortage in the short term.
  6. Paraguay still has a relevantly high infant mortality rate. As of 2019, the infant mortality rate in Paraguay was 16.6 infant deaths per 1000 live births. This is almost three times the infant mortality rate of the United States. Most of the infants died of diseases such as pneumonia, the flu and diarrheal diseases.
  7. Paraguay does not have sufficient mental health resources. In Paraguay, there are only two mental health hospitals, no mental healthcare plan for adolescents and no stand-alone laws for mental health issues. Currently, 908,117 people in Paraguay suffer from mental health issues. To help the mentally ill population, Paraguay needs more resources to finance more mental health institutions. Paraguay also needs to create mental health plans and institute laws to help the mentally ill.

Overall, Paraguay has made many improvements over the years, including infant mortality rate, healthcare spending and resources. However, Paraguay is still far from being caught up with higher-income nations. With the help of foreign aid and instituting more health care policies, Paraguay may develop a stronger healthcare system. In the coming years, Paraguay will hopefully eradicate diseases prevalent in the country and establish a better system to help with the medical needs of the population.

Hannah Drzewiecki
Photo: Flickr

10 facts about living conditions in Paraguay
According to the World Bank report in 2017, Paraguay has achieved impressive economic and shared prosperity over the last 15 years. From 2014 to 2017, Paraguay’s economy grew by 4.5 percent per year on average. In 2015, the middle class made up 38 percent of the total population, almost doubling since 2003.

For Paraguay’s poor, though, living conditions have remained difficult. Indeed, the country ranks fourth in extreme poverty, after Honduras, Guatemala and Nicaragua, according to a 2016 ECLAC report. In the article below, top 10 facts about living conditions in Paraguay are presented.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Paraguay

  1. Inequality is widespread. Though the country’s GINI coefficient, that indicates economic inequality, has dropped from 0.51 to 0.47, there is still a significant gap between rich and poor Paraguayans. According to the General Statistics Surveys and Census Bureau (DGEEC), the poorest 40 percent of Paraguayans earn only 12.5 percent of the nation’s revenue, while the richest 10 percent earn 37.1 percent of the total income.
  2. Underemployment is high and working conditions are poor. In 2017, underemployment was recorded at 19 percent, while 20 percent of Paraguayans worked less than 30 hours per week. In the Chaco region of Paraguay, region dominated by large-scale cattle agricultural facilities, some workers characterized their working conditions as a form of slave labor.
  3. Small-scale farmers are losing their jobs due to the big agricultural companies. Almost 90 percent of the land belongs to just 5 percent of landowners. The rural-urban economic gap is the result of large-scale agriculture steadily monopolizing the market in Paraguay. Studies have confirmed that, between 1991 and 2008, when the last National Agricultural Census was conducted, the number of farms and homesteads covering less than 100 hectares has shrunk, while those between 100 and 500 hectares has risen by almost 35 percent, and massive plantations covering more than 500 hectares are up by almost 57 percent. In late March 2017, 1,000 farmers converged on Asunción, country’s capital, in an annual march, demanding agrarian reform.
  4. Paraguayan democracy is lacking in social components. It consists almost exclusively to ensure that institutions function, elections are held regularly and transparently. A steady stream of scandals has revealed widespread fraud and corruption.
  5. One-fifth of the people who live in Asunción live in slums. Although complete official accounting of informal settlements is not available, the National Housing Bureau, SENAVITAT, estimates that there are 1,000 slum areas around the city. Slums along the flood-prone riverbanks of the city sometimes house up to 100,000 people. There has been a dramatic increase in the production of social housing for low-income families living in Asunción. In 2016, the Ministry built more than 10,000 low-income housing units, compared to less than 2,000 units built in 2014.
  6. Paraguayans face hunger and malnutrition. Only 6 percent of agricultural land is available for domestic food production, while 94 percent is used for export crops. According to the Food Security Index, around 10 percent of children under the age of 5 currently suffer from stunting. Nearly 27 percent of pregnant women are underweight, while 30 percent are overweight.
  7. Educational attainment is lacking. The 2016-2017 Global Competitive Index of the World Economic Forum ranked the overall quality of Paraguay’s primary education system at the 136th place out of 138 countries. Around 65 percent of children do not complete secondary education which is one of the highest dropout rates in Latin America. The latest 2017 household survey showed that about 5 percent of the adult population, or roughly 280,000 people, are still illiterate. This number has not decreased over the past decade.
  8. The rates of poverty and extreme poverty among indigenous people are at 75 percent and 60 percent, respectively. Factors such as corruption, the concentration of land ownership and environmental degradation combined with institutional weaknesses hinder progress in alleviating poverty and create obstacles for the indigenous people to maintain access to their fundamental rights, such as water, education and health care. The rate of chronic malnutrition among the indigenous population is 41.7 percent. Some indigenous communities have seen improvements, though, in regards to increased food security. A food-security cash-transfer program, Tekoporã, expanded to cover more indigenous population- from 3 percent in 2013 up to nearly 70 percent in 2018.
  9. Health care is not accessible to everyone. An estimated 40 percent of the population is unable to afford health care of any kind. Around 7 percent have private health coverage and 20 percent are covered by the health services of the social security institute, the Instituto de Previsión Social. The rest depend on the public health system.
  10. Paraguay has made giant leaps in increasing access to clean drinking water. The country triumphantly achieved almost complete access to safe drinking water among its rural population, from 51.6 percent in 2000 to 94 percent in 2017.

These 10 facts about living conditions in Paraguay provide a snapshot of the experience of Paraguay’s poor and exemplify that economic growth does not always translate to improved living conditions for everyone.
Photo: Flickr