PAHO director presents 2007 Health Report

A report presented by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) on Wednesday shows a strong correlation between health conditions and poverty in Peru. Twenty percent of the poorest population, for instance, bears 50 percent of deaths from nutritional deficiencies and anemia.

The 2007 edition of Health in the Americas is two volumes, with one dedicated to 46 country reports and the other an analysis of hemispheric health conditions from a social and economic perspective.

In Peru ¨nearly all welfare indicators show that rural areas, indigenous populations, females, the jungle region, and the central and southern highlands are at a disadvantage¨ says the country report.

According to the report, Peru’s southern highlands – Huancavelica, Ayacucho, Apurímac, Cusco and Puno departments – have a communicable disease mortality rate averaging 228.9 per 100,000 people. The national rate is 124.6. Lima’s rate is 91.3.

The southern highlands is Peru’s poorest and most rural region.

PAHO representative in Peru, Manuel Peña, told Agencia Andina ¨we have to reduce the inequalities between the rural and urban. Peru is like a multinational country, with many small countries inside of it. Some are comparable to France and Italy, others to Africa.¨

In 2005, the national infant mortality rate was 23 per 1,000 live births. But in Cusco, the rate was 84. In metropolitan Lima it was 17. An important determinant of infant mortality rate is the mother’s level of education – an indicator of the family’s socioeconomic situation. In 2000, women with higher education had an infant mortality rate of 20, while women with no schooling had a rate of 73.

Maternal mortality rate follows a similar pattern. According to the report, Puno, Huancavelica, and Ayacucho departments had maternal mortality rates over 300 per 100,000 people in 2000. Lima’s rate was 52.

Maternal health is considered an important marker of a country’s overall health status. ¨If the maternal mortality rate drops, it can be assumed that a population’s other health problems are also improving; if, on the other hand, maternal mortality remains the same, other attempts to improve the population’s health will ultimately have little effect on its wellbeing¨ says the hemisphere report.

Mirta Roses, director of PAHO, says ¨despite significant ongoing efforts to expand and improve maternal health services in the region… maternal mortality rates have changed only slightly in the past decade.¨

According to Manuel Peña, a country like Peru ¨that maintains seven percent, almost 8 percent, economic growth and doesn’t create social benefits… is wasting its time.¨ ¨Don’t just give people money, it’s best to improve the national health system.¨

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