Gustavo Petro Confused About Colombia’s Health Ranking, Gets Publicly Corrected By Fired Health Minister
In the midst of trying to pass a controversial health care reform bill through Congress, President Gustavo Petro (above, right) found himself factually challenged after he claimed that Colombia’s health care system has continued to go downhill with a misquoted ranking from a magazine article.
Petro tweeted on Sunday that CEOWorld Magazine had ranked Colombia’s healthcare system as 74th in the world, but was forced to delete the tweet hours later after former Minister of Education Alejandro Gaviria (above, left) responded with a correction of the original tweet: “President, it is ranked 35. Of course, it can be improved.”
The original tweet by the president had said, “This magazine ranks the world’s health systems. We are in position 74; they told you that we were among the first,” while linking the magazine article.
The CEOWorld Magazine ranking, which was released in 2021, actually put Colombia at number 35 for the healthcare index; the 74th ranking was for its prosperity index, which was ranking Colombia in terms of wealth, economic growth, and social welfare, among other things. The ranking had put Colombia above every other Latin American country except Ecuador and Argentina, who rank 25th and 27th, respectively.
Despite deleting that specific tweet about CEOWorld Magazine ranking, Petro tweeted another magazine ranking, this time from the scientific journal the Lancet, which ranks the country as 81st overall in healthcare access and quality, above Panama, Argentina, and Venezuela, but below Guam, Uruguay, Costa Rica, Cuba, and Chile.
Han salido a responder sobre la falsedad de mi trino acerca de clasificaciones en calidad de los sistemas de salud del mundo
En este estudio de la revista Lancet quedamos en el puesto 81 y la mayoría de los grandes paises latinoamericanos por delante.
— Gustavo Petro (@petrogustavo) April 3, 2023
Harvard University senior researcher for the Health Systems Innovation Laboratory, Johnattan García Ruiz, questioned how President Petro has interpreted this data, citing population densities of the countries cited as well as the main purpose that the original scientific article had.
“You have to understand that countries are all very different. Obviously, Uruguay is going to do better since there are three million people, that is what (Bogotá Suburbs Suba and Engativá have, you can build a different health system if you have a small group; and the same for Costa Rica, there are five million people,” he said.
“These rankings help us to see what the big challenges are, for example, regional and suddenly to see if a country has advanced over time because it is important to know if it is going well or not, how well it has progressed or what progress so slowly. But it is not to say, this health model in this country is better than the other, then we change all the health models in the region; that would be a ridiculous conclusion.”
In February, Petro submitted a health reform bill to Congress that has proven controversial, with critics saying that it could push the country toward economic instability due to its anti-private practice measures.