Challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic in the health of women, children, and adolescents in Latin America and the Caribbean

Sep 28, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has unexpectedly transformed the access and the organization of health services for an indeterminate time, circumventing the efforts made in recent years to improve women, children, and adolescent health indicators in Latin America and the Caribbean.

In most countries, the segmentation of health services, the concentration of human resources and medical technology in some urban hospitals, the under-financing of primary health care and epidemiological surveillance, and the lack of coordination between the different levels of care weaken the coordination of national response actions. Maintaining essential health services for women, children, and adolescents while mitigating the pandemic’s impact represents an unprecedented challenge.

This report presents estimates of the effects of the reduction of health services coverage on achieving or maintaining the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’s Goal 3 targets – reducing maternal, neonatal, and under-5 mortality and guaranteeing universal access to sexual and reproductive health services.

The pandemic and its response make it challenging to reach or sustain these targets, even though the region was well on track to achieve them. Urgent priorities oriented towards achieving women, children, and adolescent health equity during and after the pandemic require to 1) increase public spending on health and social policies to control the pandemic and to favor social and economic reactivation and reconstruction, 2) restore and rebuild essential health services, and 3) strengthen the primary health care strategy.

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