We're always looking for ways to make better. Have an idea? See something that needs fixing? Let us know!

Colombia: Health and Welfare
Country Study > Chapter 2 > The Society and Its Environment > Health and Welfare


In 1988 most Colombians enjoyed significantly better health care and nutrition than previous generations. The country had risen from the ranks of the poorest nations in Latin America during the 1950s and 1960s to an intermediate status in the 1980s, according to health indicators. These improvements were the result of rapid socioeconomic modernization, which was accompanied by improvements in education and working conditions; greater access to urban health care facilities, running water, and sewerage systems; and more modern attitudes toward sexuality, medicine, disease prevention, nutrition, and exercise. There were also explicit state policies designed to improve access to and availability of health care and medical services. In the 1970s and 1980s, Colombia developed a public and private infrastructure of hospitals and other health care facilities, a widespread network of medical schools, and a specialized set of institutions responsible for formulating and handling public policy in the health sector.

Despite general improvement, the benefits of better health care in 1988 were not evenly distributed among the different strata and regions of Colombian society. Urban areas, the upper and middle classes, blue-collar workers, and the central Andean region enjoyed above-average health conditions. In contrast, the rural and urban poor suffered from higher mortality and morbidity rates because of inadequate or inaccessible medical services, housing, and food. In the late 1980s, Colombian health policy makers were faced with the task of improving services to the least-favored segments of society, while improving the quality and overall performance of the national health care system.

Data as of December 1988

Last Updated: December 1988

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Colombia was first published in 1988. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

Colombia Main Page Country Studies Main Page

Section 64 of 188


Click any image to enlarge.

National Flag

($) Colombian Peso (COP)
Convert to Any Currency


Locator Map