The Fight Against COVID-19: A Perspective From Latin America and the Caribbean

Ruiz-Gómez and Fernández-Niño

[Extract] Countries in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) have made great efforts over recent decades to increase effective coverage of health services over recent decades, although large inequities persist among and within the countries. The urban–rural gap is the most notable inequity in this region. However, unlike most of the public health problems that are predominant in LAC, COVID-19 has primarily affected urban areas, especially areas of concentrated poverty.

Managing the pandemic has primarily been an urban challenge that has substantially affected the most marginalized areas of the most densely populated cities and municipalities. In those areas, the COVID-19 crisis has predominantly affected the poorest populations, which is owing to the size of the informal workforce, health service access barriers, and malnutrition. Compared with high-income countries, LAC presumed early on that it was relatively protected from COVID-19 because the region is more geographically dispersed and its populations tend to be younger. However, it turned out to be one of the areas that is most vulnerable to the pandemic because of regional disparities in health capacities, weak health authority, and structural and historical inequalities that undergird social determinants of health. The role of health systems has been fundamental, but the structural determinants put the region in a sociohistorical position of vulnerability, particularly for the large metropolitan regions.[...]

All articles from this supplement are available free of charge and in full text in English in the American Journal of Public Health and Spanish in the Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública.


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