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Study Finds ‘Huge Health Inequalities’ In Latin America

“The quality of healthcare offered to people in Latin America and the Caribbean varies dramatically from nation to nation, according to a recent study that calls for a systematic evaluation of health inequalities with the aim of reducing inequities in this region,” SciDev.Net reports. “Researchers from Argentina and Colombia built an index to measure health equality in the 20 countries in the region and the results were published recently in the journal Gaceta Sanitaria,” the news service writes, noting, “To build the index, the researchers looked at 16 health indicators, including child mortality, number of doctors, immunization coverage against measles, birth attendance by skilled health workers, health expenditure and drinking water access over the period 2005-2010.”

“Cuba fared the best, followed by Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Mexico and Brazil. Haiti came last, with Guatemala, Bolivia, Venezuela, Honduras and Guatemala also lowly ranked,” according to SciDev.Net, which adds, “There is a roughly tenfold difference in health spending per capita between the top spenders, Chile and Uruguay, and those at the bottom, Bolivia and Haiti.” The news service quotes Doris Cardona of the Epidemiology and Biostatistics Research Group at CES University in Colombia, and lead author of the study, who “says that the research helps to show how different economic, social, health and sanitation contexts can affect people’s access to healthcare, and how governments can work to reduce inequalities” and adds that “[t]he study’s index could also be used to monitor inequalities and evaluate the impact of policies on them” (Hirschfeld, 5/6).