There have been considerable improvements to Colombia's health care since the beginning of the 20th century. Colombia's infant mortality rate has been lowered by better medical care. In the period 1990-95, the life expectancy for Colombians was 69 years. This is an improvement from the 1970-75 period when the life expectancy for Colombians was 61 years. However, many Colombians still suffer from tuberculosis, hepatitis and typhoid. Malnutrition is a serious problem for some Colombians.

Medical care in Colombia is available in the large cities, which have hospitals and clinics, but in rural areas medical care is harder to find. Although all doctors are required to spend a year working in a rural area before they receive their final diploma, there is a shortage of trained doctors and nurses available to work.

In the cities, 81% of the population has piped water, compared to 27% of the rural population, and 65% of urban homes are connected to a sewage system. In rural areas, access to clean water and nutritious food is often limited. The health of rural Colombians suffers as a result. Malaria and dysentery are still a problem in these areas.

The pharmacy network is well developed in Colombia. There are droguerias (pharmacies) even in small towns. Medications are frequently cheaper than in North America. There are few restricted drugs and even antibiotics are available over the counter.

Did you know?

Mosquitoes pose a threat to many Colombians in low-lying areas as they may transmit malaria. Colombian scientist Manual Elkin Patarroyo discovered the vaccine for malaria. He donated the rights for this vaccine to the United Nations World Health Organization