|The health system of Uruguay is one of the best
in South America, a legacy of progressive social legislation in the early
20th century. Although the system deteriorated during the period of military
government in the 1970s, and economic problems in the 1990s increased health
problems related to poverty, the system is still good.
Uruguayans, by law, have access to health care in public hospitals and clinics. In rural areas, however, medical care is not as easily available as it is in Montevideo, although some local clinics provide emergency first aid. The Hospital de Clinícas in Montevideo is the most important public hospital. There are also private clinics that provide treatment by specialists for patients who are able to pay fees.
|Because the climate is mild in Uruguay, tropical
diseases are not as much of a problem as they are in other South American
countries. The water supply is reliable and wastewater systems are modern.
Vaccinations against major infectious diseases such as tuberculosis are
compulsory. Social and labour legislation ensures that safe working conditions
are implemented in the workplace. Smoking, however, has adversely affected
the health of many people.
In the northern parts of the country, near Brazil, some people follow traditional African health practices. For example, illness is thought to be caused by the ill will of hechiceros or brujas, that is, male or female witches. Curanderas are folk doctors who use herbs to cure illnesses brought about by the mal de ojo (the evil eye).