PAHO director to share insights on health disparities in the Americas
If you were born in a country in South America in 1900, you could expect to live just 29 years. One hundred years later, you were more likely to live well into your 70s – but not if you live in Bolivia, where life expectancy is just 66.8 years. In neighbouring Chile, life expectancy is 79.2 years.
These types of inequities are among the many highlights in a recently-released exhaustive report on the health of the Americas – a region encompassing 48 countries and territories from Canada in the north to Argentina and Chile in the south. The report prepared by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) will be the subject of a public talk at McMaster University on Oct. 17, at 6 p.m., by the woman who has led PAHO for the past 10 years.
Mirta Roses Periago will offer insights from the report that show that despite the huge strides made in improving population health in all of the countries of the Americas during the past decades, the continuing high level of inequality in the distribution of health and well-being in the region requires urgent attention.
Health in the Americas is produced every five years, examining a wealth of data about the health and wellness of all 48 countries and territories represented by PAHO, the regional office for the Americas of the World Health Organization.
Other highlights included in the newly-published report that point to the major inequities that still exist in population health:
- The infant mortality rate in the Americas varies widely, from 4.8 deaths per 1,000 live births in Cuba, to 50 in Bolivia. Canada’s rate is actually higher than Cuba’s at 5.1
- In Chile in 2010, mortality among children under the age of 5 was 11.3 times greater in the poorest quintile than in the wealthiest quintile
- Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death in most of the countries of the Americas, with 30 per cent of premature deaths occurring among the poorest population quintile, and 13 per cent among the wealthiest quintile
In addition to the extensive statistics on the state of health, the report also examines how the many non-biological factors – economics, politics and the environment to name just a few – impact the overall health status of individuals and societies as a whole.
Using the report’s findings and her 10 years of leading the organization charged with working to improve health and living standards in the countries and territories of the Americas, Roses Periago will discuss, health conditions and trends in the Americas, social determinants of health, and the challenges of achieving equitable health among vastly different nations.
The public talk will be held in HSC-1A1 from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., and all are welcome to attend.
Roses-Periago is visiting McMaster to take part in the 45th session of PAHO’s Advisory Committee on Health Research, being hosted by the McMaster Health Forum from Oct. 17 to 19. The committee is chaired by Forum Director John Lavis, and this is the first time it has met in Canada.
For more details on the meetings and other events being held to give the McMaster community and the public the opportunity to learn more about PAHO’s work, click here.
A profile on Roses Periago can be found here.