The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) is calling for equitable access to health care in the Caribbean, saying that millions of people in the world still lack access to health care and that many are forced to choose between spending on health and other daily expenses.
PAHO estimated that, in the Caribbean and the wider Americas, around one third of the population lacks access to health care.
“Our main objective is that all people, no matter where they live, can access health care without restrictions and without serious financial difficulties,” said the Dominican-born director of PAHO and regional director for the Americas of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr Carissa F Etienne.
PAHO said access and universal health coverage is the theme of World Health Day to be observed on Sunday with the slogan “Universal Health: everyone, everywhere” and focusing on primary health care (PHC), equity and solidarity.
“The countries of the region have made important progress in health, which is reflected in the 16-year increase in life expectancy over the past 45 years, as well as in a reduction in infant mortality.
However, challenges still remain as these gains have not been equitable,” PAHO said, noting adding that it would present the report, “Universal Health in the 21st Century: 40 Years of Alma-Ata,” during a meeting in Mexico on April 9-10.
The report will provide recommendations on expanding access and health coverage in the region by 2030, without leaving anyone behind.
PAHO said in celebration of World Health Day, it has invited countries to “create chains of human solidarity in order to show their commitment to universal health, and to share the photos of these on social media using the #HealthForAll hashtag.”
PAHO said primary health care (PHC) is the foundation for achieving universal health. “It is an approach that involves integrated, quality health services that focus on promotion, prevention, treatment, cure and rehabilitation.
This year’s World Health Day campaign also focuses on solidarity and equity, “core values of universal health,” according to PAHO, adding that these values emphasize the need for society as a whole to contribute to the promotion of health for all people, particularly the most disadvantaged.