Socioeconomic development, health interventions and mortality decline in Costa Rica
Rosero Bixby, Luis
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Costa Rica, whose life expectancy was 74 years by 1985, has reached a health level comparable to a developed country. The health achievements of this country are product of political and socioeconomic circumstances as well as of right public health policies. Until about 1970 the features of Costa Rica mortality, although somewhat better than the Latin American average, evolved in a similar way to the rest of the region. In particular, the decades of 1940s and 1950s saw dramatic improvements in life expectancy, thanks mainly to the import of low-cost, high-effectiveness health technologies. In the 1970s, however, Costa Rica departed from a regional pattern of stagnation and managed to close the gap with developed countries in terms of mortality levels. A dramatic decline in the infant mortality rate from 60 to 19 per 1,000 took place in this decade. The main determinants of this breakthrough were health interventions, notably a primary health care program, even though favorable socioeconomic conditions and a reduced fertility also played a role. Ecological data and other evidence suggest that up to three fourths of the mortality decline was accounted for contemporary improvements in public health services, with about 40 percent attributable to primary health care interventions. Furthermore, by targeting interventions on the less privileged population, these interventions had the merit of reducing geographic and socioeconomic differentials in child mortality.
Artículo científico -- Universidad de Costa Rica. Instituto de Investigaciones en Salud, 1991