El Salvador Healthcare System. Healthcare in El Salvador

Healthcare System El Salvador
Hospital El Salvador in San Salvador.

El Salvador healthcare system is distributed into three sectors, the public or universal, the social insurance or El Seguro Social, and the private sector. All three Salvadoran healthcare systems have hospitals and clinics; however, the public or universal system is the one used by most Salvadorans.

El Salvador’s public healthcare system has 31 public hospitals across the territory; it also has numerous public health centers and community clinics. The public healthcare system is the most used, and anyone with private or Social insurance can still use the Salvadoran public healthcare services.

The Social Insurance healthcare system or El Seguro Social is the system assigned to public and private employees who pay a monthly insurance fee. Then there is the private sector, which offers excellent care, and has good hospitals. However, since it is expensive, it only benefits a small percentage of the Salvadoran population.

El Salvador Healthcare System
Public Health Care worker in San Salvador. Photo by Health Minister

El Salvador’s Public Healthcare System

The public healthcare system in El Salvador or Universal health care gives free medical assistance to anyone who needs it. This system has departmental, regional, and specialty hospitals. It also has health care centers in heavily populated areas and clinics for smaller communities.

El Salvador Public Hospitals

The Salvadoran public hospitals are classified as departmental, regional, and specialty. They are all located in densely populated areas and offer essential health services; however, the regional and departmental hospitals provide more services.

Departmental Hospitals

The departmental hospitals are located in the capital cities of each department and also in areas with high population concentration. Departmental hospitals offer all the essential health services and some specialties.

Departmental Hospitals
Department City Hospital Name Phone Website
1 Ahuachapan Ahuachapan Hospital Dr. Francisco Menendez (503)2445-6800 Webpage
2 Sonsonate Sonsonate Hospital Dr. Jorge Mazzini Villacorta (503)2891-6500 Facebook
3 Santa Ana Metapan Hospital Dr. Arturo Morales (503)2891-6000 Facebook
4 Santa Ana Chalchuapa Hospital of the city of Chalchuapa (503)2891-4500 Webpage
5 Chalatenango Chalatenango Hospital Dr. Luis Edmundo Vasquez (503)2393 9010 Webpage
6 Chalatenango Nueva Concepcion Hospital of the city of Nueva Concepcion (503)2991-0500 Webpage
7 La Libertad Santa Tecla Hospital San Rafael (503) 2594-4000 Website
8 San Salvador Zacamil Hospital Dr. Juan Jose Fernandez (503)2594-5000 Facebook
9 San Salvador San Marcos Hospital Dr. José Antonio Saldaña (503)2201-2101 Webpage
10 San Salvador Soyapango General & Psychiatry Hospital Dr. Jose Molina Martínez (503)2327-0200 Webpage
11 San Salvador San Bartolo Hospital Angélica Vidal de Najarro (503)2201-3100 Webpage
12 Cuscatlan Cojutepeque Hospital “Nuestra Señora de Fatima” (503)2991-2201 Webpage
13 Cuscatlan Suchitoto Hospital of Suchitoto (503)2347-4700 Webpage
14 San Vicente San Vicente Hospital Santa Gertrudis (503)2393-9500 Facebook
15 La Paz Zacatecoluca Hospital Santa Teresa (503)2347-1200 Facebook
16 Cabañas Ilobasco Ilobasco National Hospital (503)2347-5000 Facebook
17 Cabañas Sensuntepeque Hospital “San Jeronimo Emiliani” (503)2361-0700 Webpage
18 Usulutan Jiquilisco Hospital of Jiquilisco (503)2684-3300 Facebook
19 Usulutan Usulutan Hospital San Pedro (503)2792-0000 Facebook
20 Usulutan Santiago de Maria Hospital Dr. Jorge Arturo Mena (503)2684-0200 Webpage
21 San Miguel Ciudad Barrios Hospital Monseñor Oscar Arnulfo Romero y Galdamez (503)2792-2200 Webpage
22 San Miguel Nueva Guadalupe Hospital Nueva Guadalupe (503)2645-2238 Webpage
23 Morazan San Francisco Gotera Hospital Dr. Hector Antonio Hernandez Flores (503)2645-7100 Webpage
24 La Union Santa Rosa de Lima Hospital of Santa Rosa de Lima (503)2792-4400 Webpage
25 La Union La Union Hospital of La Union (503)2792-5000 Webpage

Regional Hospitals

The Salvadoran public healthcare system has two regional hospitals, one in the western part of the country in Santa Ana and the other in the Eastern area of El Salvador in San Miguel.

Both regional Hospitals are responsible for the coordination of the hospitals that make up each of the Regions. These hospitals offer a higher level of care and specialty than departmental hospitals.

Regional Hospitals
Department City Hospital Name Phone Website
26 Santa Ana Santa Ana Hospital San Juan de Dios (503)2891-5000 Webpage
27 San Miguel San Miguel Hospital San Juan de Dios (503)2792-3000 Webpage

Specialty Hospitals

The National Specialized Hospitals offer highly complex medical services. To receive care in one of these hospitals, the patient must have a referral from one of the departmental or regional hospitals.

Speciality Hospitals
Department City Hospital Name Phone Website
28 San Salvador San Salvador Children’s hospital Benjamín Bloom (503)2133-3100 Webpage
29 San Salvador San Salvador Hospital for Women Dr. Maria Isabel Rodriguez (503)2206-6212 Webpage
30 San Salvador San Salvador Hospital El Salvador for COVID-19 (503)2594-2100 Webpage
31 San Salvador San Salvador Hospital Rosales (503)2231-9200 Webpage

El Salvador Public Health Care Centers

The Salvadoran public healthcare system has healthcare centers located in cities or municipalities with large populations. They provide specialized and preventive health services; they provide services such as family care, dental, pediatrics, ophthalmology, internal medicine, and others.

To use public health care centers, the patient must first make an appointment and follow all the necessary steps to become a patient. These healthcare centers are good and provide preventive health services to many Salvadorans; however, it has problems.

The most significant problem is slow, delayed medical care. For example, waiting five hours or longer for a general consultation is normal. Also, since there is a lack of healthcare professionals for these centers, it is typical to wait for more than two months for an appointment.

Healthcare centers are free and available to anyone; however, be prepared to wait a long time to get your initial appointment or an appointment with a specialist.

Community Public Clinics

Community clinics are the last part of the El Salvador healthcare system. These free clinics are located in smaller communities and some in rural areas. These clinics offer the most basic healthcare services, and many are only open a few days per week.

Hospital Rosales
Hospital Rosales in San Salvador.

Is Public healthcare in El Salvador good?

El Salvador’s public healthcare system is considered poor. Even though the healthcare system has many hospitals, clinics, and care centers, the quality of healthcare they provide is deemed inadequate. Many facilities have low-grade medical equipment, are almost always understaffed, and often run out of medicine.

In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic shed light on El Salvador’s healthcare system flaws and inadequate facilities. Since then, the Nayib Bukele administration has made improvements; they have upgraded the infrastructures and provided newer equipment. However, still not good enough.

The public hospitals, health care centers, and clinics are managed and regulated by the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare or MINSAL.

The Social Insurance Healthcare System or El Seguro Social

The Social Insurance Healthcare System or El Seguro Social provides health services to all public and private employees and their families who are members. This healthcare sector is part of the government; however, it works and operates as a separate entity from the public healthcare sector.

To individual needs to be a member to receive health services at one of these facilities. To become a member, the person must be a public sector employee or work for a private company that operates formally and is registered with the Social Insurance Healthcare System (El Seguro Social).

Businesses that operate informally do not offer this insurance benefit to their employees. About 70 percent of jobs in El Salvador are in the informal market.

The main contributor or insured person can add family members to his insurance plans, such as a spouse and underage kids.

This insurance is mandatory for any employee that works for a private business that is properly registered, and it is also obligatory for all public employees.

The insurance fee is paid between the employee and the employer. The employee is responsible for a smaller percentage of the monthly payment, and the employer pays the remaining balance.

This healthcare system has hospitals and clinics, most of which are in the San Salvador metropolitan area. It also has smaller clinics or health centers in heavily populated areas outside San Salvador.

El Salvador healthcare
ISSS hospital in San Miguel.

Private Healthcare System in El Salvador

El Salvador’s private healthcare system has hospitals and clinics in larger cities, such as San Salvador metropolitan area, San Miguel, and Santa Ana.

It is believed that this sector has hospitals with better equipment and offers better services. However, these facilities are expensive and mainly used by wealthy people or those with insurance.

The private system is there for anyone that can pay for their services. This system is also available through insurance policies. Most Salvadorans can’t afford these private facilities; therefore, they use the public healthcare system.

El Salvador Healthcare System
House-to-house COVID-19 Vaccination. Photo by Mnistero de Salud

El Salvador Healthcare System

Over the last 30-plus years, the El Salvador healthcare system has been considered poor, mainly in the public sector. If given a choice, most Salvadorans would prefer the private sector; however, because of the cost, most people opt for the public system.