A Conversation with Dr. Fernando Ruiz Gómez, Colombia's Minister of Health

Colombia's health minister discussed his country's Covid experience and plan to advance the vaccination campaign while modernizing its healthcare system. 

"Colombia decided to take a comprehensive approach—to have both an epidemiological strategy and strong health services strategy," said Dr. Fernando Ruiz Gómez, Colombia's health minister, in an AS/COA event, as part of its Healthcare series. While Colombia faced a challenging pandemic experience, he credited this policy, alongside a month and a half lockdown, as having helped the country avoid the worst Covid scenario.

Now, Ruiz is focused on Colombia's vaccine rollout with the goal of getting the country to 70 percent vaccine coverage by the end of the December. "The main feature we wanted to accomplish in our vaccination plan was equity," said Ruiz, detailing his ministry's efforts to ensure equal coverage across Colombia's diverse population and geography.

“We do not see the economy in conflict with health," Ruiz explained while acknowledging the role the private sector has played in Colombia's Covid recovery. With some of the highest levels of growth in the Western Hemisphere, Ruiz is confident in Colombia's recovery and its ability grow its healthcare and pharmaceutical sector.

Leonardo Arregocés, head of medicine in the health ministry, concluded the program by explaining the county's efforts to integrate technology and big data tools into its provision of care.