Expanding Healthcare in Peru
Although Peru has been continuing to prosper within recent years, there are still many Peruvians who live well below the poverty line. Peru’s government, along with partnering organizations, have been working to increase the coverage of health care in Peru. Target areas include those who live in rural areas with limited access to health care, as well as those living in urban communities that cannot afford health care.

In 2009, the Peruvian government passed a law mandating universal health insurance as a right for all Peruvians. Under the new extension of coverage, pregnant women and those with children under the age of five now qualified for the Ministry of Health’s (Ministerio de Salud, MINSA) Integral Health Insurance (Seguro Integral de Salud, SIS) program. At the start of last year, 2015 newborns whose parents did not have health insurance became automatically covered under SIS.

The Ministry’s desire to ensure health care for all Peruvians inspired SIS Entrepreneur, which covers independent workers and the School Health Plan, which covers children enrolled in school. MINSA’s efforts are truly making a difference, health insurance coverage has increased since 2010 by 20 percent, and 80 percent of Peruvians are now covered.

Despite the increase in health insurance, the expansion of services to rural areas remains a challenge. Incentives and compensation pay for working in rural areas or high priorities zones were introduced to help even out the density of health care workers.

Reformation on all levels of health care in Peru has been a priority within the past few years. At the end of 2014, a plan to repair and modernize facilities was released. The completion of the plan saw to the reconstruction of 170 provincial hospitals, 23 regional hospitals and 13 national hospitals. Major improvements on three specialty hospitals are to begin at the end of this year.

The proficiency of the Peruvian health care system also relies heavily on the networks’ abilities to work efficiently with one another. There are five leading health care sectors, as well as the private health care services. Thus, in 2013, there was a restructuring of services, resulting in the creation of a general overseer, the Management Institute of Health Services. MIHS improved the availability of primary services by making it easier for the other networks to respond to patients from SIS providers and broadened the pharmaceutical pool through integrating public providers.

Although MINSA is diligent with their plans for reformation and has made undebatable headway, humanitarian organizations still play a key role in providing health care in Peru. The Foundation for International Medical Relief of Children (FIMRC) works in two primary locations: Huancayo, an urbanized poor sector, and La Merced, a jungle area that is rich with native culture. FIMRC works with the hospitals there to improve health education in the community. The majority of health complications within these areas are preventable through basic hygiene knowledge.

Partners in Health is another organization deeply rooted in Peru. PIH is a partner with MINSA, and they operate 10 clinics situated in poverty stricken sections of Lima that would not have health care otherwise. PIH works to provide health education to the communities and is very invested in meeting the needs of the residents.

PIH is also a global leader in the study and treatment of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB). PIH began the construction of the Center for Global Health Delivery recently. The center, located north of Lima, will be a place to treat those with MDR-TB and act as a research facility for disease experts.

As the Oxford Business Group pointed out, investment is the key to the continued expansion and improvement of health care in Peru. Right now, Peru’s gross domestic product on health care is regionally low, at three percent. If Peru can continue to prioritize health care and increase their investment, health care will thrive.

Amy Whitman

Photo: Flickr