On World Health Day, the Director of PAHO calls for equitable recovery from the pandemic in the Americas – World

On World Health Day, the Director of PAHO calls for equitable recovery from the pandemic in the Americas – World

Unequal pandemic suffering and exposure The panelists included members of academia and civil society, including the Latin American and Caribbean Confederation of Domestic Workers and the Fund for the Development of Indigenous Peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean. The panelists drew attention to the exclusion of domestic workers from social security, expanding the reach of health services, the need to catalyze justice, and the need to not only generate data and better knowledge about health inequities affecting marginalized communities but also to take action to reduce inequalities, racial and ethnic inequities. Pointing out that people in situations of vulnerability have disproportionately suffered from the pandemic, Dr. Etienne drew attention to those living in crowded, substandard housing with limited access to water and urban informal settlements; essential workers and workers in the informal economy.

“Action to control and treat COVID-19 during the pandemic, as well as during the economic recovery, must be centered on reducing inequalities,” she continued. “We must act decisively now to ensure the right of all members of the population to the highest attainable standard of health.” “The unprecedented pandemic has brought existing social and economic inequalities to the fore, regrettably exacerbating them,” Dr. Etienne said during a virtual event hosted by PAHO for World Health Day, celebrated to bring attention to vital global health concerns.

During the event, Argentine Minister of Health Carla Vizzotti said, “Without a doubt, the pandemic has put the world and our region to the test – and not only the health sector but also the economic and social sectors.” The pandemic is estimated to have driven between 119 and 124 million more people globally into extreme poverty last year. It is also estimated that 14 years of gains in the fight against poverty have been lost due to the pandemic. And there is convincing evidence that the pandemic has widened gender gaps in employment, with women exiting the labor force in greater numbers than men over the past 12 months.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has thrived amid the inequalities in our societies and the gaps in our health systems,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General for the World Health Organization (WHO). “It is vital for governments to invest in strengthening their health services and to remove the barriers that prevent so many people from using them, so more people have the chance to live healthy lives.” To defeat COVID-19 and recover with a more equitable world, Dr. Etienne called for: Reducing inequities post-pandemic

Many of the people most affected by the pandemic – female heads of households and Afro-descendent and indigenous women; people earning minimum wage; those with limited or no access to social protection; and people, most often women, performing unpaid caring work – are also employed in work that exposes them to the virus. These people often already lacked access to quality health care and had the poorest health status. Long histories of structural discrimination often underlie the lack of access and poor social conditions of the groups most at risk. These social determinants of health must be addressed to reduce inequity.

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