September 27th, 2006 11:19 EST
Inequitable health care rife in the Americas, according to new UN report
Unequal access to services and disparities between rural and urban areas continue to mar the health systems in North and South America and the Caribbean, according to the latest United Nations report on the issue.
“The search for equity in health is one of the main objectives,” Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Director Mirta Roses said in presenting her annual report to the organization's 47th Directing Council currently meeting in Washington.
The report focuses on closing the gaps in health in the least protected populations in the Americas, especially in areas where poverty is highly concentrated in relation to disadvantaged groups such as women, children, indigenous populations, young people and the elderly.
“In far too many countries, unnecessary poor health conditions persist” and evidence shows there are a number of cost-effective interventions to improve health conditions, PAHO’s former Director George Alleyne told the region’s Health Ministers today.
Dr. Alleyne is an editor of the project, deals with such issues as tobacco use, cardiovascular disease, maternal and newborn mortality, and the reduction of infectious diseases, such as TB, malaria and HIV/AIDS.
The Western hemisphere continues to show inequities in resource allocation and the design and implementation of health policies, according to PAHO, which is the regional office for the Americas of the UN World Health Organization (WHO).
The report notes advances in policy making and strengthening operating capacity, and outlines examples of progress in reaching disadvantaged groups such as pregnant mothers and newborns, strengthening primary care and broadening access to health and nutrition, and protecting the health of children and adolescents and preventing youth violence.
Other initiatives noted are strengthening gender equality, reducing stigma and discrimination against people affected by HIV/AIDS, protecting the disabled, improving health care for the elderly, and advancing programs to protect against and mitigate the impact of disasters.