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Health in the Americas 2022: Overview of the Region of the Americas in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic

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About Health in the Americas

One of the core functions of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) is “monitoring the health situation and assessing health trends” in the countries and territories of the Region of the Americas. PAHO’s flagship publication Health in the Americas responds to this mandate, examining health conditions, trends, and challenges in the Region.

In accordance with Resolution CD7.R23 of the seventh Directing Council of PAHO, all countries and territories were asked to prepare four-year reports on health conditions, focusing on health statistics. That report, now known as Health in the Americas, has been published periodically since 1954. While it originally consisted of compiled data, over time, it has evolved into a key reference publication that brings together current knowledge on public health issues and related challenges, and on the guidance needed to address them.

The objective of Health in the Americas: Overview of the Region of the Americas in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic is to respond to the need to address important public health issues in an increasingly timely manner, while serving as a platform with a close focus on specific issues of regional importance. This 2022 edition is the second in its new format, providing an overview of the analysis, as well as an in-depth description of the key issues related to COVID-19 in the Region of the Americas. This overview is supported by the Health in the Americas+ virtual platform, which offers interactive resources for data analysis and allows for the comparison of information disaggregated by subregions and countries.

Introduction

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted every area of people’s lives and has had an impact on health at the individual and population levels. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the world has been facing not only a public health crisis but also an economic and social crisis. This is not limited to the direct consequences of the pandemic; it has also exacerbated existing and emerging public health challenges. The negative effects of this syndemic scenario have been concentrated in vulnerable populations such as older people, low-income groups, ethnic groups, migrants, and homeless people.

The pandemic has also highlighted the need to strengthen multilateral cooperation in order to have strong institutions that act in the spirit of solidarity and cooperation. This will make it possible to reduce the harm caused by COVID-19 and avoid the negative effects of future pandemics that may delay progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and human rights (1, 2).

The pandemic and the measures adopted in response to it have both directly and indirectly affected the health of the Region’s population. They have also caused setbacks in the progress achieved so far, putting at risk the achievement of the objectives of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (3), as well as the Sustainable Health Agenda for the Americas 2018-2030 (4). To get back on track towards achieving global, regional, and national health goals, it is necessary to adopt an approach based on the social and environmental determinants of health, with explicit resources and interventions aimed at promoting health equity.

The objectives of this publication are to:

  • Analyze the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the health of the population of the Region of the Americas, including universal access to health, emphasizing inequities.

  • Identify lessons learned from the pandemic response, including the innovations developed.

  • Provide a forward-looking vision to recover and sustain public health achievements and return to the path toward universal health.