Uruguay - Health

The government traditionally has placed great emphasis on preventive medicine and on the sociological approach to public health problems. The US Institute of Inter-American Affairs and the Uruguayan Ministry of Public Health created the Inter-American Cooperative Public Health Service, which built four health centers and clinics. For the region, life expectancy is high (74 years in 2000); infant mortality is low (14 per 1,000 live births in 2000); and the ratios of doctors and beds to the population are exceptionally good. In 2000, 98% of the population had access to safe drinking water and 95% had adequate sanitation. At the end of 1999, the number of health care providers, with number per 1,000 people, was as follows: 12,486 physicians (4), 2,613 professional nurses (0.8), and 4,050 dentists (1.3). As of 1999 total health care expenditure was estimated at 9.1% of GDP.

The Commission for the Fight against Tuberculosis is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Health; as a result of its efforts, tuberculosis is almost unknown in Uruguay today. In 1999, there were 29 cases of tuberculosis per 100,000 people. No polio or neonatal tetanus cases were reported in 1995. The commission also deals with the social and economic effects of various diseases.

The major causes of death are heart diseases, cancer, and digestive disorders. Degenerative diseases rank higher as a cause of death in Uruguay than in most other Latin American countries.

As of 2002, the crude birth rate and overall mortality rate were estimated at, respectively, 17.3 and 9 per 1,000 people. Maternal mortality was 26 per 1,000 live births in 1998. Contraceptive use was high, with nearly 85% of married women in Uruguay using some method of birth control in 1989–90. Immunization rates in 1997 for children up to one year old were tuberculosis, 99%; diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus, 88%; polio, 88%; and measles, 80%.

As of 1999, the number of people living with HIV/AIDS was estimated at 6,000 and deaths from AIDS that year were estimated at 150. HIV prevalence was 0.3 per 100 adults.

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