Pedro Pablo Cortes
Mexico, Oct 18 (EFE) .- Personalized medicine is already in Latin America, but not for all people, a situation that would aggravate inequality in the region, experts warned in an interview with Efe after the publication of a report from the Intelligence Unit of The Economist (The EIU).
“In most countries there is a huge difference. This is not a case of introducing personalized medicine in Latin America, it is already there, but for some people with private insurance, which only amplifies the lack of equity”, explained Alan Lovell , Associate for Health Policy at The EIU.
The British specialist presented his report “Personalized medicine in Latin America: Universalizing the promise of innovation” during Roche Press Day, a virtual event that this week brought together specialists from across the region.
The report classified the countries in three levels, according to their degree of progress, led by Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica and Uruguay in 1, followed by Chile and Mexico in 2, and finally Ecuador and Peru in 3 .
While the former are “ready to decide” whether to create a comprehensive approach to move towards this form of medicine, the latter are still “strengthening the foundations” and the latter are just “beginning the journey,” he stated.
The importance of personalized medicine lies in treating people, not illness, which means that people can access treatments that are tailored to their unique needs, Lovell explained.
“What personalized medicine offers you is that, instead of giving the same drug to a lot of people and seeing who works and who does not, personal health gives the opportunity to identify from the beginning which will be the most effective medicine “, he described.
The problem for Latin America, he pointed out, is that the countries still struggle to guarantee universal access to health, which is why they underestimate the importance of other investments.
Only six out of ten Latin American countries have a national digital health strategy, according to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).
“I think it’s because many politicians and legislators will tell you that it is not a priority for them, because they have yet to achieve universal basic health for their populations and they have other things to focus on,” Lovell lamented.
However, the common denominator in Latin America is that the private sector is already moving forward while the public is lagging, warned Gabriel Riveros, a doctor at the Javeriana University and an honorary member of the National Academy of Medicine of Colombia.
“What is going to happen is that people in the public sector are not going to benefit, which would be a completely unequal issue, therefore it is up to the State to try to make the best possible incorporation into the systems”, indicated Riveros, also a former Minister of Health.
To this panorama must be added the covid-19 pandemic, of which Latin America has been the worst hit region with almost 10.5 million cases and close to 400,000 deaths of the almost 40 million cases worldwide and more than 1.1 million deaths.
“The most disastrous thing that has happened to us with the pandemic is the consumption of resources that have had to be allocated to care for the pandemic, but there has been a better coordination between the actors of the systems to try to solve it,” said Riveros.
The Colombian doctor asked the public and private sectors to maintain this new cooperation to “take advantage of the great opportunities” to advance to digital and personalized health.
“It is a matter of awareness that has to do with the health structure of the countries and patients understanding what this is, and incorporating it responsibly, honestly, ethically and above all in solidarity so that it is the same for everyone,” he reflected. EFE
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