“Reorganize health services to care for COVID-19 patients and save lives”


Washington – The Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Dr. Carissa F. Etienne, today called on all countries in the Americas to take urgent action to reorganize their health services and protect health professionals in order to safely care for patients with the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and save lives.

“The message is clear- Now is the time for countries to increase their capacity to detect cases, care for patients, and ensure that hospitals have the space, supplies and staff they need to provide the necessary care,” Etienne said during her weekly teleconference with the region’s health ministers.

She urged health leaders to involve citizens and other sectors in support of public health action. “If everyone collaborates, it is not too late to contain the situation, flatten the epidemic curve and thereby avoid overloading the health services so that they can give the necessary care to all who need it.”

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 epidemic on 31 December 2019, until 17 March, 191,127 cases and 7,807 deaths were reported globally. The majority of these deaths were in China, Italy, Iran, Spain and France. As of yesterday, in the Region of the Americas, 37 countries and territories reported 5,944 cases and 19 deaths.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), current global data indicate that 81% of COVID-19 cases are relatively mild, 14% evolve into more severe illness, and about 5% become critical, requiring supportive treatment such as oxygen and mechanical ventilation. Advanced age and pre-existing medical conditions are risk factors for severe outcomes…[+]