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date: 07 December 2023

Child Health in Latin Americalocked

Child Health in Latin Americalocked

  • Célia Landmann Szwarcwald, Célia Landmann SzwarcwaldDepartment of Public Health (Oswaldo Cruz Foundation), Institute of Scientific and Technological Communication and Information in Health
  • Maria do Carmo Leal, Maria do Carmo LealDepartment of Prenatal Care (Oswaldo Cruz Foundation), National School of Public Health
  • Wanessa da Silva de Almeida, Wanessa da Silva de AlmeidaDepartment of Pediatrics, Fundacao Oswaldo Cruz
  • Mauricio Lima Barreto, Mauricio Lima BarretoDepartment of Health, Universidade Federal da Bahia
  • Paulo Germano de Frias, Paulo Germano de FriasDepartment of Public Health, Instituto de Medicina Integral
  • Mariza Miranda Theme Filha, Mariza Miranda Theme FilhaDepartment of Public Health, Escola Nacional de Saude Publica - Sergio Arouca
  • Rosa Maria Soares Madeira Domingues, Rosa Maria Soares Madeira DominguesDepartment of Epidemiology, Instituto Nacional de Infectologia Evandro Chagas
  • Elisabeth Barboza Franca, Elisabeth Barboza FrancaDepartment of Epidemiology, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais
  • Silvana Granado Nogueira da Gama, Silvana Granado Nogueira da GamaDepartment of Public Health, Escola Nacional de Saude Publica - Sergio Arouca
  • Cristiano Sigueira BoccoliniCristiano Sigueira BoccoliniDepartment of Public Health, Oswaldo Cruz Foundation
  •  and Cesar VictoraCesar VictoraDepartment of Epidemiology, Universidad Federal de Pelotas


Child health has been placed at the forefront of international initiatives for development. The adoption of the Millennium Development Goals has propelled worldwide actions to improve maternal and child health. In the course of the year 2000, the Latin American (LA) countries made marked progress in implementing effective newborn and infant life-saving interventions. Under-five mortality in LA fell by a third between 1990 and 2015, with a sharp decline in diarrheal diseases and respiratory infections. Due to the successful immunization programs in the region, some vaccine-preventable diseases have been eliminated. Many of the LA countries have reached nearly universal coverage of childbirths attended by skilled personnel and >80% coverage for antenatal care. In 2015, 18 countries in the region reported the elimination of mother-to-child transmission for both HIV and syphilis.

Although the advances in the public agenda aimed at promoting child health and development in Latin American countries are undeniable, unresolved issues remain. While many stillbirths and neonatal deaths could be averted by improving access to antenatal, intra-partum, and postnatal interventions, Latin America has the highest cesarean rate among all regions of the world with an excessive number of such operations without medical indications. The simultaneous lack and excess of cesarean deliveries in LA countries reflects a model of care that excludes a considerable portion of the population and reveals the persistent gaps and inequalities in the region. One of the main challenges to be faced is the lack of sustainable financing mechanisms to provide integrated and high-quality health care to all children, equal education opportunities, and social services to support disadvantaged families. When planning interventions, equity should be restored as the guiding principle of actions to ensure inclusion and social justice. Children represent the future of society in Latin America and elsewhere. For this reason, social commitment to provide universal child health is the genesis of sustainable development and must be an absolute priority.


  • Global Health
  • Public Health Policy and Governance
  • Special Populations

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