Social inequality in Latin America: a condition that affects health

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Latin American Post sets its position on a more common and deeper problem than is initially believed

Social inequality in Latin America: a condition that affects health

Health must always be first, however, some of our countries do not seem to have it so clear. Recently, the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, better known as ECLAC, warned about inequality in the distribution of income of people in Latin America, which decreased significantly between 2008 and 2015, largely due to the way in which as some countries prioritize their social development goals.

Leer en español: La desigualdad social en Latinoamérica: una condición que afecta la salud

That study, presented in Santiago de Chile, also showed the inequalities in the use of time between men and women, in the ethnic-racial condition and in other inequalities that arise in the different stages of the life cycle. The conclusion of the study made by the Chilean leader of ECLAC, Alicia Bárcena, pointed out that inequality is a historical characteristic of the societies of this part of the world due to the existence of vicious circuits and that the objective is to reduce it notably by 2030.

Read also: The 5 challenges of health systems in Latin America

In Latin American Post we agree that this situation affects the health of people in the continent. From our point of view, for there to be an improvement in the labor income of the poorest sectors, we must work to formalize jobs, in a real increase in minimum wages in several countries of this geographical region, and in the increase of monetary transfers to the neediest strata.


A worrisome reality

James Fitzgerald is director of systems and health services of the United Nations (UN) and, in the framework of World Health Day, said that citizens of several Latin American countries present numerous challenges of access to health service, which should be inconceivable in these times.

In this sense, it is not difficult to specify that these citizens are those who are mainly in rural areas, although the leader also mentioned the Afro-descendant population as one of the most affected by the inequality in health systems prevailing in Latin America.

Access to health in the world, and especially in the continent, is conditioned, but not guaranteed, and this is due to obstacles such as economic capacity, as well as a non-optimal service and other irregularities of physical and geographical nature.

In fact, in that sense, the UN gave terrifying figures in which three out of ten people in this part of the world do not have access to health services due to lack of money. Unusual, taking into account that the state must guarantee a basic right of human beings, without any kind of distinction.

The problem arises from the state because, in many of them, public investment in health is very low. According to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for health must progressively reach 6%, but on average the figure is only 4%.

The figures that PAHO manages and that support this conclusion points out that Latin American nations invest only 3.8% of their GDP in health, and that, worldwide, almost 800 million citizens, about 12% of the population, they must invest from their personal budget to attend to health situations.


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More inequality, less health for the Latin American citizen

In short, LatinAmerican Post supports research that shows that many governments are not investing what health deserves, undermining the ECLAC objective for 2030 and, of course, with the living conditions of Latin Americans.

All this situation affects the proper coverage and attention of the population, especially the rural population, as stated in the Sustainable Agenda of the Americas 2018-2030, which, in turn, poses challenges such as strengthening the promotion of health and prevention of diseases, as well as in parallel solve access problems in rural and remote areas. In short, more investment and greater coverage and prevention by the states in health matters.


LatinAmerican Post | Editorial Team

Translated from "La desigualdad socia en Latinoamérica: una condición que afecta la salud"

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