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Salud Publica Mex. 2006 Nov-Dec;48(6):504-11.

The essential health reform in Chile; a reflection on the 1952 process.

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  • 1Universidad de Santiago de Chile, Chile.


The authors claim that the critical health reform in Chilean history was the establishment of the National Health Service (NHS) in 1952. The development of modern Chilean health care since the end of the 19th century is discussed both in terms of the prevailing health situation and the subsequent evolution of institutions and policies, with an emphasis on the social and political conditions that led to the creation of the NHS in 1952. From this analysis and from a comparison of infant mortality rates among Latin American countries during the same period, the authors infer that the 1952 health reform was the social and political benchmark that allowed Chile to exhibit the relatively favorable health situation it still enjoys. Using Cavanaugh's scheme, it is clear that the "first-generation reform" was the reform imposed by the military regime in the early 1980s, which aimed to change the orientation of the health system. Similarly, the "second-generation reform" was that implemented by the democratic administrations of the early 1990s to reverse the harm done by their military predecessors. The rapid aging of the population and the advent of new technologies pose a challenge to the insurance system's coverage capacity and threaten the sustainability of all health systems. The implementation of universal, comprehensive, collective health systems, managed under the most integrated authority political conditions will allow, is emphasized as an appropriate solution for developed and developing countries alike.

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