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Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública

On-line version ISSN 1680-5348Print version ISSN 1020-4989


GOMEZ GOMEZ, Elsa. Gender, equity, and access to health services: an empirical approximation. Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 2002, vol.11, n.5-6, pp.327-334. ISSN 1680-5348.

This piece describes the conceptual framework and the objectives that guided a research initiative in the Region of the Americas that was called "Gender, Equity, and Access to Health Services" and that was sponsored in 2001 by the Pan American Health Organization. The piece does not summarize the results of the six projects that were carried under the initiative, whose analyses have not all been completed. Instead, the piece discusses some of the foundations of the initiative and provides a general introduction to the country studies that were done. The six studies were done in Barbados/Jamaica, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. The primary objective of the initiative was to stimulate the use of existing quantitative information in the countries, with the goal of starting a process of systematically documenting two things: 1) the unfair, unnecessary, and avoidable inequalities between men and women in their access to health care and 2) the linkages between those inequalities and other socioeconomic factors. The concept of gender equity that guided this examination of health care was not the usual one calling for the equal distribution of resources. Rather, it was the notion that resources should be allocated differentially, according to the particular needs of men and of women, and that persons should pay for health services according to their economic ability rather than their risk level. The starting point for the initiative was the premise that gender inequities in utilizing and paying for health care result from gender differences in the macroeconomic and microeconomic distribution of resources. The piece concludes that achieving equity in health care access will require a better understanding of the gender needs and gender barriers that are linked to social structures and health systems.

Keywords : acceso a los servicios de salud; equidad; género.

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