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Colombia to deepen reforms in its health care system with the IDB

Loan for $250 million will support measures to increase efficiency and equity in health services 

Colombia will strengthen its health care system through a model that emphasizes prevention with the help of a programmatic policy-based loan for $250 million from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). 

The program’s objective is to support the design and implementation of health system reforms to generate a continuous improvement in health outcomes and ensure the flow and transparency of public resources for health care in Colombia. 

"On one hand, the emphasis on providing access to primary care services will improve prevention, early detection, and diagnosis of health problems, which will allow people to seek early treatment with better results and fewer costly medical interventions," said Frederico Guanais, IDB project team leader. “On the other hand, institutional strengthening will produce greater efficiency in the administration of health resources." 

Colombia is close to achieving universal health insurance coverage. In December 2012, 91.1 percent of the population was enrolled in its General Social Security Health Care System. Access to services has expanded under a progressive framework. 

Despite these major achievements, deficiencies persist in capacity and quality of primary care and preventive medicine. Nearly one out of two Colombians report having used an emergency room in the last two years, a health care alternative that leads to worse outcomes and higher costs than primary care. 

The Health reform will also contribute to improving the health of isolated populations, more equitable access to quality services and greater efficiency in resource management.

The IDB has provided support to the Colombian government to ensure the sustainability of the country’s health care system. In addition, the Bank has supported structuring of the new Institute for Health Technology Assessment, and is funding both technical support for the development of assessment processes and methodologies as well as the design of the pharmaceutical policy.

The activities are among several measures Colombia has agreed to carry out under a $250 million programmatic policy-based loan (PBL) approved by the IDB Board of Executive Directors. PBLs are fast-disbursing operations that provide IDB borrower governments with resources to finance priority programs, with results that must be verified as conditions for disbursements. 

The IDB financing was extended under its Flexible Financing Facility for repayment on December 15, 2025, and an interest rate based on LIBOR. 

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