|New research examines health gaps in countries working toward universal coverage in the Americas|
Studies in the latest issue of the Pan American Journal of Public Health show progress but also continuing challenges in reducing health inequities
Washington, D.C., 15 March 2013 (PAHO/WHO) – Research carried out in six countries in Latin America and the Caribbean shows that progress toward universal health coverage has coincided with some improvements in health equity, but that significant inequities in health status and access to health care persist.
The research, carried out in Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Jamaica, Mexico and Peru, is presented in a special section on “Equity in Health Systems” in the latest issue of the Pan American Journal of Public Health.
“These studies provide important evidence to inform policies on the evolution of income-related inequality in health outcomes and health services utilization and access in these countries’ health systems,” writes Dr. Carissa F. Etienne, Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), in an editorial accompanying the research.
The six countries studied are among a growing number of countries in the Americas that have significantly expanded health coverage in recent years. Using household survey data, the studies examine health status, utilization of health services, income and other socioeconomic indicators to detect changes in health inequities in these countries in recent years.
Among the key results are the following:
Another original research article, “Food and nutrition security policy in Brazil: an analysis of resource allocation,” shows that government resources allocated to Brazil’s National Policy on Food and Nutrition Security (PNSAN) grew 82% between 2009 and 2010, reaching US$15 billion. The largest portion of these funds was invested in the cash transfer program Bolsa Familia.
Finally, a special report on “The National Tuberculosis Research Agenda in Peru, 2011–2014” describes the participatory process involving researchers, program coordinators, officials and academics that led to a national research agenda designed to improve TB control strategies in the country and optimize the use of financial and human resources.
The Pan American Journal of Public Health (PAJPH) is an open-access, peer-reviewed monthly journal of PAHO/WHO. Its mission is to disseminate scientific public health information to strengthen national and local health systems and improve the health of the peoples of the Americas.
Regional Office for the Americas of the World Health Organization