In Latin America and the Caribbean chronic non-communicable diseases (NCDs) have become the leading cause of death and premature disability. In the region, NCDs account for nearly 68% of mortality and are related to 63% of the disease burden.
The economic evidence confirms that health status is associated with economic growth and productivity because of the relationship between health and lower rates of fertility, reduced risk of impoverishment from health shocks and higher rates of household savings.
Early childhood, or the period from conception to two years of life, is the most important in the formation of the capabilities of individuals, and malnutrition at this stage affects development. In 2011, malnutrition was responsible for 45% of all deaths in children under 5 years of age.
The poorest households face double disadvantage: on one hand, they are more exposed to risk factors for adverse conditions of housing, water and sanitation and inadequate nutrition. On the other hand, they have less access to health services and in turn lower quality services.
It is estimated that in the last three decades expenditure on health per capita quadrupled in real terms, and total expenditure on health as percentage of the GDP increased from 6% to 12% in advanced economies and from 3% to 5% in emerging economies globally.
The IDB is committed to advancing maternal and child health and nutrition in pregnancy and early childhood as well as checking the growing incidence of chronic diseases. To achieve these goals, it will prioritize the following steps: investment in the reduction of the economic and non-economic barriers that inhibit access to health services; strengthen preventive service integrated networks with strong public and private players’ participation; and promoting greater efficiency of resource deployment and use that take into account each country’s epidemiological priorities.