Health in the Americas 2022

Social Inequalities in Potentially Avoidable Premature Mortality

In recent years, countries in the Region of the Americas have, as a whole, experienced significant improvements in health outcomes, including decreases in potentially avoidable premature deaths. However, profound social inequalities in health outcomes are reflected across the Region. Between 2000 and 2019, the cross-country distribution of potentially avoidable premature death shows a decrease in inequalities; however, the inequality is disproportionately concentrated in the most disadvantaged countries in the Region. For 2019, an excess of 128 premature potentially avoidable deaths per 100,000 population across the social gradient among countries (from the least to the most developed) were recorded. Nonetheless, at the regional level, the gradients—absolute and relative—of inequality between countries reduced simultaneously, and at a faster pace, than the average regional magnitude of these deaths.

Equity in health is achieved when all people have the opportunity to reach their full health potential, and when no one is excluded or disadvantaged in reaching that potential because of social position or other socially determined circumstances. Improving health equity requires changing the underlying distribution of the social determinants of health (i.e., the circumstances in which people are born, grow, live, work, age, and die) as well as the broader set of forces and systems that affect the distribution of wealth, power, and resources at all levels of organization.