Health Conditions in the Americas, 1969-1972
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[Preface]. The theme of this publication, the sixth in a series started in 1954, is Health Conditions in the Americas, 1969-1972. The series began as a mere compilation of data, b u t it is gradually taking on the character of a work of reference for use both within the various countries and between one country and another in acquiring a knowledge of health problems and the re sources available for solving them. Statistics have an intrinsic value as an analytical language which describes phenomena or situations, and on the basis of experience helps us to forecast the way they are likely to evolve. They give a picture of things as they are an d help to focus them more closely. They are essential for a knowledge of the past and a forecast of the future. Furthermore, as events take shape, statistics are irreplaceable as a means of adjusting decision-making. In short, they are the basis for modern systems of evaluation and information, which are part of the process of economic and social development planning. All these features are to be seen in health and its various functions: protection, promotion, and recovery of health. With o u t reliable statistics there can be no viable programming. A mere glance at these six publications over the last 20 years indicates how far the da ta have improved in respect of quality, accuracy, and prompt processing and publication. Nevertheless, in some areas in particular, more and better information is required. Examples are data on births and the need for registration of additional facts such as birth order, weight of the child at birth, and age of the mother—data required for identifying the 'groups exposed to the highest risk. As is pointed out in the Inter-American Investigation of Mortality in Childhood, nutrition a l deficiencies constitute the most serious health problem among deaths analyzed. When this condition accompanies low birth weight, the question of survival is raised and the growth and development of the newborn child are jeopardized. The more serious the state of malnutrition of the mother, the more uncertain the future of the child. More data are required on morbidity, in regard to patients treated both in hospitals and in out patient departments. The latter in particular are far from conforming to the International Classification of Diseases. T h is interferes with the design of health and disease dynamics in the various countries and the formulation of programs aiming a t useful levels of coverage. There is also much less information on persons who fall ill but do not consult a doctor, either because there are no services accessible or because their beliefs and convictions do not prompt them to do so. There is concern among the Governments at the cost of health operations, both preventive and curative, and interest in studying the problem with a view to systematic financing of the various institutions providing medical services. In spite of these and other limitations, the publication now submitted to Governments for their consideration should prove useful in providing a better knowledge of the situation in each country for comparison with the situation in other countries of the Americas, projecting the trends of the problems and the possibility of gradually solving them, and evaluating the goals of the Ten-Year Health Plan 1971-1980. In the developing world we have to consider the negative indicators of well-being, including those of morbidity and mortality. We are still a long way from being able to register the positive indicators reflecting the quality of life, in other words a sound health status enabling every human being to grow, develop, fulfill himself, and contribute to the common good.
Las condiciones de salud en las Américas, 1969-1972
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