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Older people with COVID-19 have the same right to receive care as anyone else

ByMicheal Johnson

Oct 1, 2020

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) on Wednesday called on the countries of the continent to offer “comprehensive, integrated and person-centered care, and for primary care services that respond to the needs of the elderly.”

Although no one is safe from getting COVID-19, older people are much more likely to develop serious illness after infection, with people over 80 years old suffering a death rate five times higher than that. media, PAHO recalled on the eve of the International Day of the Elderly.

A recent United Nations report on “The impact of COVID-19 on older people” suggests that this situation may be due “to underlying conditions that affect 66% of those older than 70 years.”

A scenario that is replicated in the American continent, where the Most deaths from COVID-19 occur in people aged 70 and over, followed by individuals in the 60-69 age bracket.

The problem of physical distancing in older people

Although worldwide between 40% and 80% of deaths from COVID-19 occur in residences or long-stay care centers, in America there is a different phenomenon, having as the main center of attention the home, a space where maintaining physical detachment is difficult.

The Director General of PAHO, Carissa Etienne, stressed that the COVID-19 pandemic has accentuated the needs and vulnerabilities of this population group in relation to their right to health.

“Too often, we don’t hear their voices and perspectives when it comes to their care. Older people have the same right to receive care as anyone else. No life is more valuable than another“, Held.

However, PAHO indicates that this problem does not arise with COVID-19, since before the pandemic in some low- and middle-income countries, close to 50% of the elderly lacked access to some essential health services , a problem that has worsened with the appearance of the disease.

The Decade of Healthy Aging begins

On the other hand, PAHO recalled that this year the Decade of Healthy Aging, which seeks to improve the lives of older people, their families and communities, in addition to addressing age discrimination through the joint work of governments, civil society, international agencies, the media and other actors.

Some figures on aging:

  • It is estimated that by the year 2050 the number of people over 60 will double both globally and in America. In 2025, people aged 60 and over will represent 18.6% of the total population of the continent.
  • Latin America and the Caribbean is the second fastest growing region in terms of the number of people over 60, behind Africa. However, the increase in life expectancy does not translate into quality.
  • Brazil reported that 76% of COVID-19-related deaths between February and September 2020 occurred in older adults.
  • Peruvians older than 70 years had the highest death rates from COVID-19 between the months of March and May of this year.
  • Estimates from Canada show that more than 80% of COVID-19 deaths have occurred in residences or long-term care facilities.

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