“The day will come when a sneeze in the East will generate a cataclysm in the West,” Libia Herrero, MD, said in a talk about viruses at the University of Costa Rica, some years ago. This day has arrived! Against the pandemic, public institutions need effective action to stop transmission and provide necessary treatment. Prior experience and the ongoing response to COVID-19 in Costa Rica offer important lessons. Since the 1980s, when Costa Rican authorities established the National Health System, the country has faced multiple epidemics and pandemics with satisfactory results. What allowed the country to achieve these results? What are the reasons why the cholera epidemic that originated in Peru in the early 1990s with hundreds of thousands of cases and hundreds of deaths, only had 35 cases in Costa Rica—half of which were by people who caught it abroad. Similar success happened with SARS, H1N1, and others. In this article, we discuss some of the features that allowed Costa Rica to effectively deal with previous pandemics and are being brought to bear on COVID-19. We hope this experience will provide insights to public authorities in other countries.

Health Management, Policy & Innovation
Incae Business School

Prado, A, & Salas, A. (2020). The Coronavirus Pandemic and the Costa Rican Health System. Health Management, Policy & Innovation, 5(1).