Pan American Health Organisation Director, Dr Carissa Etienne has recommended specific policy protection for the most vulnerable in the region.

The regional director explained during a recent virtual press briefing that specific policy was required to protect groups at greater risk due to social barriers, including women, people of African descent, the indigenous population, prisoners, migrants and persons with underlying health issues.

“Protecting vulnerable groups is critical to addressing the health, social and economic emergencies and winning the fight against COVID-19. It is necessary because we cannot stop the spread of the virus if we do not focus on all those affected by it, including vulnerable populations. It is also our responsibility  because everyone has the right to health, to access testing, treatment, and care, regardless of who they are or where they live,” highlighted the PAHO leader.

Dr. Etienne contended that women, in general, are disproportionately affected by health crises, and there had been no change during the pandemic.

“Women in our region face income disparity, lack of adequate access to health services and are often subject to gender-based violence. In addition, women make up 70 per cent of the health workforce in the Americas. So that is it to say they are on the frontlines and are disproportionately affected by COVID 19,” said Dr. Etienne.


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