Washington DC, 21 July, 2021 (PAHO) - The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) launched a series of virtual seminars on “Public investment in health in times of COVID-19” that seeks to reflect on the role of health financing in the set of measures promoted by countries, in particular, those that affect the health sector, to inform the dialogue and advocacy for the strengthening of health systems. The first virtual seminar of the series was held on 20 July with the theme “Financial protection in health in times of pandemic.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed long-standing deficiencies in health systems that have affected response capacity and public health outcomes: segmentation and fragmentation, deficiencies in the availability and distribution of human resources for health, low public spending on health and, at the same time, a significant proportion of out-of-pocket expenses for financing health services,” said Jarbas Barbosa, PAHO Assistant Director, in the opening remarks.
An unprecedented economic crisis has been generated, threatening to roll back the progress of per capita regional income to 10 years ago. One of PAHO’s priorities for 2021 is supporting the development of resilient health systems, both in the control and post-covid-19 stages, and aiming to ensure the sustainability of the systems and the protection of previous achievements in terms of public health at the regional level.
"The pandemic has had strong economic implications for our countries with significant falls in the gross domestic product, around 6.8% in Latin America and the Caribbean," said Jarbas Barbosa. “The importance of public spending for the transformation, resilience, and sustainability of health systems is indisputable. The pandemic has confirmed the need to increase and improve public investment in health to effectively protect the health of the population, and contribute, in this way, to the development and well-being of our region”, he added.
Financial protection is a crucial component of Universal Health and the Sustainable Development Goals. It means people have access to the health services they require and they being protected from potential financial hardship that may result from the use of services. The webinar addressed a global and regional perspective on financial protection and reviewed the situation during the pandemic context.
The event featured presentations by Gabriela Flores, Senior Health Economist, Department of Health Systems Governance and Financing, WHO with the theme “Financial protection: a global perspective”; Camilo Cid, Advisor in Health Economics and Financing, PAHO/WHO, presented on “Financial protection in Latin America and the Caribbean”; Ajay Tandon, Lead Economist, World Bank, with the theme “Financial protection in times of COVID-19”; and Luis González Machado, General Director of the National Board of Health of the Ministry of Public Health of Uruguay, presented the country case “Health financing and financial protection in Uruguay. ”
This series of events may be of interest to technical officials and authorities of government institutions of health and the financial sector of the Member States; to decision-makers in general, and technical and professional officials related to health financing in the countries and international collaboration agencies; to the academic community, and PAHO Collaborating Centers in the Region of the Americas.
The above presentations and the recording of the event are available here.