Coronavirus risks years of health progress in the Americas, says WHO director

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Coronavirus risks years of health progress in the Americas, says WHO director




Health professionals examine patient in São Paulo


© Reuters
Health professionals examine patient in São Paulo


Por Stephen Eisenhammer

SAO PAULO (Reuters) – The new coronavirus is disrupting vaccination programs and care for other diseases and could end years of progress in health in the Americas, the regional director of the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday.

Carissa Etienne, said in a weekly press interview that the pandemic is reducing care for chronic conditions, such as diabetes, and infectious diseases, such as HIV and tuberculosis.

“These services are seriously paralyzed or, worse, completely paralyzed,” she said. “The Americas are at risk of losing years of health gains in a matter of months.”

Supply of medicines is also a problem, said Etienne. Eleven countries in the Americas have less than three months to supply HIV antiretrovirals and others are short of tuberculosis drugs, she said.

Etienne called on governments to increase health spending to at least 6% of gross domestic product (GDP), saying the current average of 3.7% is not enough.

“Countries need to adapt and commit to simultaneously providing these essential primary care services, while mitigating the effects of Covid-19,” she said. “This is not a choice.”

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