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Giovanni Apráez ippolito is Professor of Public Health at School of Medicine, National University of Colombia and Adviser in Primary Care in Cauca Region, Colombia. Carlos Sarmiento Limas MD MPH is Head of Public Health at School of Medicine, National University of Colombia,  and ex-medical officer in Ministry of Health in Bogota-Colombia


Colombia pioneered primary health care (PHC) in the Latin American Region from the 1950s until the beginning of the 90s. There was then a crisis in PHC due to reform of the national Health system (by law 100 in 1993), which adopted a system based on the insurance model. This led to two decades of debate without any structural changes, and Colombia became the focus for international discussions on PHC and Health Organization models. During the past 60 years there was also a war in Colombia that appears to have ended during the current national government (2014-2018).

The international consensus is that health systems based on PHC have better results, lower costs, guarantee the right of health of individuals and communities, promote comprehensive care, promote health, and contribute to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), among many other benefits. Primary care is organised according to the individual circumstances in each country (WHO 2008) but, in our opinion, this structure must be predominantly public.

There is renewed interest in PHC in Columbia for several reasons ...continue reading