Implementing a primary health care approach is fundamental for achieving Universal Health Coverage (or Universal Health as it is known in the Americas). In Caldas District, the implementation of this strategy since 2013 has meant that communities experiencing the biggest inequities in health are receiving the most attention. In the spirit of the Sustainable Development Goals to leave no one behind, this is a laudable effort.
Since 2013, 54 Social Health Care Centres have been introduced to bring local and national efforts together in one place to improve people’s quality of life. The Social Health Care Centres prioritise different interventions according to the health risks and needs of the community. This includes educational activities such as Cuídate-Cuídame or ‘Take Care of Yourself and Myself’, entertainment and sports, cultural events, specific health promotion and disease prevention activities, and educational workshops focused on lifestyle. In addition, there is rehabilitation, home-based care, health care in social programmes in local administrations, and other health services. All these activities are led by and receive support from the municipalities to encourage the greatest participation of local actors and sectors.
This model can also be called a ‘welfare generation’ model as it takes the family as the core from which to intervene, analyses risk and opportunities for health protection, and encourages community participation in finding solutions to their own health problems. Ensuring a strong focus on community and society puts priority on the settings giving the most appropriate and effective forms of care. It allows for interventions to focus on the most vulnerable people in the community, who have historically been overlooked in social and health care.
According to the think-tank Así Vamos en Salud, Caldas District now enjoys the best health indicators of the whole country which include user perception, health financing, institutional performance, citizen participation and governance. Juan Pablo Uribe Restrepo, former Minister of Health and Social Protection called the strategy, “An effective intervention which brings welfare to the citizens” and said that this model should be rolled out nationwide.