And the cases here in Belize are just a small part of the wider problem in the region. According to the Pan American Health Organization, the Americas and the Caribbean remain the epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic with the top ten countries with the highest numbers of infections from the region. They include the United States, Brazil and Mexico. PAHO Director, Doctor Carissa Etienne says it continues to be a worrying situation, especially for men.
Doctor Carissa Etienne, PAHO Director: “The Americas reported more than 91.7 million cases which some 39% of global cases and more than 2.3 million deaths, 46.3% of global deaths. Five countries of the Americas; USA, Brazil, Mexico, and Colombia all are within the top ten countries in the world with the highest number of cumulative deaths. However every country in the region has been effected. We have seen also significant death rates in healthcare workers related to the lack of available and protective equipment. Also all age groups have been affected in terms of cases. This graphic shows on the left side that case rates are similar between men and women more concentrated in the 25-39 age group. However in terms of mortality the graphic shows on the right side that men have been more susceptible than women and that the largest number of deaths occur in the 65-74 year age bracket.”
Doctor Etienne also added that those who come from underprivileged backgrounds are at greater risk of both infections and deaths.
Doctor Carissa Etienne, PAHO Director: “Socioeconomically disadvantaged population groups are at greater risk of infection and death from COVID-19 and this has been reported. Similarly there is a correlation between excess mortality and the proportion of the population living in overcrowded conditions such that the areas with the highest rate of overcrowding are those most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Data for 18 countries and territories of Latin America and the Caribbean on excess mortality from all causes reported that in the biennium 2020-2021 as compared to 2015-2019 show that the countries with the worst relative position in terms of the sustainable development index which includes measures of income, education, water and sanitation that they suffered higher levels of excess mortality from all causes in 2020.”
Interestingly, she also noted that across the region, even before the pandemic, there have been unaddressed failings in health sectors. For example, 1.7 million deaths could have been avoided in 2016 – years before the COVID-19 pandemic – had there been accessible and quality health services in this region.