The Impact of Caregivers in Latin America
A new study has highlighted the significant role of caregivers in the health system in Latin America. Caregivers play a vital role in providing support to individuals who are unable to carry out their daily tasks independently due to illness, disability, or advanced age. According to a study published earlier this year by BMC Public Health, caregivers are the main source of care services for people in a situation of dependency in the region.
The study revealed that one third of the annual cost of care and treatment of different diseases in Latin America comes from the costs associated with the hours that a person who is not a health professional dedicates to caring for a patient, without receiving remuneration. A substantial amount of time and money is spent by people in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico, and Peru on providing care, underscoring the immense impact of caregivers.
The World Health Organization reports that this responsibility is predominantly assumed by women who have a family relationship with the patient, and is often performed on a long-term and unpaid basis. In Colombia, a survey published by Dane indicated that 34.9% of people with disabilities receive care from a person within the home, and 82.1% of those who assume this role are women.
Health experts have emphasized the importance of raising awareness of the essential role of caregivers. Caregivers provide both physical and emotional care to those in need and play a crucial role in ensuring therapeutic adherence, patient communication with the health team, and taking preventive measures to avoid complications. However, this work presents significant risks, including physical and emotional overload, lack of support and resources, financial difficulties, stigma, and social isolation.
Medicarte, a medical team, has launched initiatives to address the mental and physical health of caregivers, such as the “Caregiver School”, which offers educational workshops aimed at caregivers, patients, and family members. Additionally, every year in November, caregivers are commemorated to promote greater awareness about the importance of their role in patient care and well-being.
The study and subsequent initiatives aim to recognize and support the invaluable and challenging work of caregivers in Latin America. The efforts of caregivers contribute significantly to the health and well-being of those in need, and it is essential to implement actions that focus on caring for those who care for others.
The new study sheds light on the important and often overlooked role of caregivers in the health system and the consequences of their work, providing valuable insights for addressing the needs and challenges faced by caregivers in the region.