Latin America and the Caribbean are experiencing a rapid epidemiological transition: while a backlog of reproductive and communicable diseases, child malnutrition and anemia still affects the poorest people, noncommunicable chronic diseases are on the rise for all. Although this shift in the burden of disease is to be expected given the aging demographic profile, the levels of chronic disease risk factors in the region are particularly high. These conditions affect people at all income levels; but they increasingly and disproportionately affect the poor.
With the current standard of care still based towards curative care and with little emphasis on health promotion and preventive strategies that address risk factors, direct and indirect costs of ill-health will pose important fiscal and economic challenges. Through its Division of Social Protection and Health, the IDB is helping countries in the region to expand access to integrated primary health care services, to strengthen health systems organization and performance and to set priorities in meeting current and emerging needs, and to properly finance rising health costs in order to achieve healthier and more equitable societies.