The National Confederation of Health Service Professionals (FENPRUSS) has enthusiastically begun work on updating its proposals for strengthening and defending the public health system in Chile.

This important work is taking place with the valuable support of Matías Goyenechea and his team from the Creando Salud Foundation, who will be calling on a range of academics to contribute ideas on the four components that we hope will complement the work that has already been completed by the organisation.

This work will build on material included in the document La Reforma del Bicentenario de la Fenpruss and the booklet La Salud que Soñamos es Posible (Another Health System is Possible) and will deal with issues such as the constitutional right to health, strengthening the public health system and its operation, funding and human resources.

“We have decided to take this important step because we must contribute to the discussion on the health reforms that Chile needs. We already know a lot about the situation and this task represents one of our union’s key areas of work. We have pressed for a bigger and better public health system. We have defended the system through our proposals, ideas and actions in the street in the 23 years since FENPRUSS was founded”, said Aldo Santibáñez, national president of FENPRUSS.

Santibáñez explained that the results will be validated in the same way as before, that is, at a national meeting, so that the final document produced with the help of contributions by academics and specialists on the issue of health can reflect the thoughts of all FENPRUSS members.

Matías Goyenechea, adviser to the union, said that the work aims to be participatory and to contribute to the discussion on health reform in the country. He said that it builds on work already done by FENPRUSS in its booklet Salud que Soñamos es Posible.  “We want to analyse the difficulties and inequalities in the system and we hope we can achieve this by updating the union’s proposals for the health system”.

“We want it to be a participatory process that takes on board the aspirations of all those who believe in a strong and high-quality public health system able to make progress towards providing timely and supportive health care for all Chileans”, said the FENPRUSS national president.

Thanks to the generations trained in the middle of the 20th century, Chile has played a leadership role in the field of public health. Despite the brutal reverses inflicted by the dictatorship, it has health indicators that place it in the vanguard in Latin America and the world. For example, life expectancy is longer than in the United States, even though there are less resources. This success has been built on the commitment of health professionals. Comparing Chile with other OECD countries, the country has 2 hospital beds per 1,000 inhabitants (OECD average is 4.9); 3.2 medical appointments (OECD average 6.4); and 9,936 hospital discharges (OECD average 15,508). This clearly shows that Chile allocates less resources to health, as does data showing health expenditure per inhabitant: health expenditure in the United States is US$ 8,233 per year per inhabitant, the OECD average is US$ 3,265 and Chile is US$ 1,202, including both the public and private sectors. 

The situation is even more dramatic if we take into account that the average figure of US$ 1,202 per person disguises the fact that the public health system provides healthcare for most of that part of the population that has a smaller percentage of income. In this context, FENPRUSS will steadfastly continue to defend the public health system and oppose the growing transfer of resources to the private sector, whether that takes place through granting hospital concessions or the procurement of services. FENPRUSS will continue to campaign for decent work and quality jobs, denounce the shortfall in human resources, demand training and adequate working conditions and reject any abuses, in the knowledge that the ultimate aim is to deliver quality health care to service users.