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IDB approves $75 million loan to Uruguay to support reform of health care system

The Inter-American Development Bank today announced the approval of a $75 million sector loan to Uruguay to improve the coverage, quality and efficiency of the healthcare system.

The resources will support the government in carrying out policy actions that, over time, will reduce costs and improve care quality in a regulated, competitive setting for both private and public service providers. At the same time the reform will ensure greater access to health services for the more vulnerable population groups.

The program will unify, integrate, and systematize the existing disperse body of regulations; create a basic set of shared ground rules; and lay the foundation for an institutional regulatory framework that will strengthen the public and private healthcare delivery systems and make them more complementary.

A regulatory body will be established that will systematically monitor health care institutions and take preventive oversight measures, and steps will also be taken to protect users rights and give greater emphasis on preventive and family care.

Measures will be taken to promote a more efficient management model in the private health care delivery organizations, including restructuring plan to resolve their financial deficiencies and adoption of the model by-laws, which are essentially intended to separate policy-setting responsibilities from true management responsibilities, elimination of conflicts of interest, and professionalize management.

The public healthcare delivery system will be modernized along the lines set forth in the 2000-2004 Five-Year Budget Act. This includes the restructuring of the Ministry of Health, separation of functions of the public healthcare system and management agreements to allocate resources to service-delivery units.

In addition, the technical capacity of the Ministry of Health will be strengthened.

The project is expected to contribute significantly to the current upward spiral of health care costs, thereby reducing pressures on the public deficit, labor costs and household budgets.

The total cost of the program is $150 million. The IDB loan is for a 20-year term, with a five-year grace period, at the variable annual interest rate for the U.S. dollar single currency facility, now 6.97 percent.

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