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Chronic Diseases, Primary Care and Health Systems Performance Diagnostics, Tools and Interventions

dianagosalvez Diana Gosálvez Prados last modified 20/06/2012 15:36

The burden of chronic disease in Latin America and the Caribbean is large and growing. The four main chronic non-communicable diseases (NCD) - cardiovascular disease, cancer, chronic lung diseases and diabetes - kill three in five people worldwide. Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) countries currently face the double burden of NCD in addition to the continued burden of reproductive and communicable diseases and child malnutrition and anemia--especially in poor communities.

Macinko J, Dourado I, Guanais FC. Chronic Diseases, Primary Care and Health Systems Performance  Diagnostics, Tools and Interventions. Washington, D.C.: Inter-American Development Bank; 2011. Available at: http://idbdocs.iadb.org/wsdocs/getdocument.aspx?docnum=36533608



Growing exposure to risk factors in combination with low levels of access to preventive care are increasing unmet health needs. LAC has been experiencing a “nutrition transition” towards less healthy diets. Thirty to sixty percent of the region’s population does not achieve the minimum recommended levels of physical activity and obesity is rising rapidly. Inadequate access to high quality health services, including clinical prevention and diagnostic services and difficult access to essential medicines are significant contributing factors to the growing burden of chronic disease.

This chronic disease burden is expected to increase due to the aging of the population and to the relative decline in the proportion of communicable diseases. Predictions for the next two decades show a near tripling of diabetic patients, ischemic heart disease and stroke mortality in LAC.

Primary care contributes to NCD prevention and control through primary prevention of risk factors (promotion of physical activity, discouragement of smoking initiation), secondary prevention of complications resulting from existing risk factors, and tertiary prevention (rehabilitation and prevention of future complications resulting from stroke or uncontrolled diabetes). There is varied evidence of the effectiveness of primary care to perform all of these functions….

Macinko J, Dourado I, Guanais FC.

Norte América