Social inequalities in health grow during a pandemic, points out Fiocruz

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A survey by the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz) shows that social inequalities in health have deepened during the Covid-19 pandemic.

While in the South region, the problem had a reduction of 16% until January of this year, in the North, where 98% of the cities had the worst classification indexes before the arrival of the coronavirus, practically all of them remained in this situation.

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The study is from the Center and Integration of Data and Knowledge for Health (Cidacs/Fiocruz Bahia), which built an index to measure the effects of social inequalities on health, and will be officially launched this Wednesday (30).

According to the researchers, the disparity seen in the country already existed before Covid-19, but has intensified in the last two years. In the pre-pandemic period, in the Southeast, only 35% of the municipalities were classified with the worst rates and, in the South, 7%. Following the North in the problem, the Northeast had 99% of cities in these categories.

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In the case of the North region, the economic effects of the disease were very present. According to researcher in Pharmaceutical Sciences Terezinha de Jesus, a member of the Instituto de Mulheres Negras do Amapá and a collaborator in the research, an example of this scenario is the situation of riverside, forest or rural women, who had their activities paralyzed.

“People went to relatives’ houses in the countryside and took the virus there, many people died,” recalls Terezinha. The researcher also highlighted the wide circulation of disinformation, the wait for up to a week for the arrival of the Covid-19 tests analyzed in Belém (PA) and the hunger situation.

As a result, after the first wave of Covid-19, for example, only 3% of municipalities in the North had managed to reduce health inequalities. In the South, in the same period, this index reached 8%. In the Northeast, the data are repeated. In February 2020, almost all municipalities were classified in the worst classifications, and in January 2022, they were 92%.

In Maranhão, for example, Lúcia Gato, a member of the Mãe Andresa Black Women’s Group, heard by Fiocruz, highlighted the strong impact of the pandemic on black women. “Most black women run their households and take care of their children. You have a situation where you had women heads of families in a situation of illness, caring without having this care, and with children at risk”, she reported.

Epidemiologist Emanuelle Góes highlighted the importance of including structural racism as a category of analysis in the research, as well as the percentage of poverty, pardos and indigenous people due to inequalities related to health disparities in Covid-19, in addition to the percentage of the population. residents in household density and percentage of elderly people and poverty situation.

“The pandemic has hit black people differently because of racial inequalities. We needed to provide evidence for this”, says the researcher.

The IDS-COVID 19 was calculated based on socioeconomic, sociodemographic data and access to health services. The researchers use the basis of the last IBGE Demographic Census to monitor the number of beds and respirators and the Brazilian Privatization Index (IBP), which takes into account income, education and housing conditions.

In the Southeast, most municipalities were concentrated in the intermediate levels of the index developed by Fiocruz. In the South, where no city was ranked in the worst inequality cluster even before the pandemic, 196 out of 1,188 analyzed managed to reduce the disparity two years later.

Fiocruz’s research also had the support of 40 people, including representatives from the public management area, representatives of entities and community associations, researchers and journalists. The project is part of the Grand Challenges ICODA pilot initiative promoted by the Health Data Reserch UK and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Minderoo Foundation.

Source: CNN Brasil

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