[Preface]. Since 1995, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has been publishing annually and uninterruptedly the Health Situation in the Americas: Core Indicators, which represents the minimum set of information needed to define the health situation in the Region. In this edition, and with a different format, new indicators are being introduced based on the results of a review of the core indicators within the Regional Core Health Data Initiative.
The new set of indicators includes, among others, risk factors, mortality by broad cause groups according to the list of causes of the Global Burden of Disease, and new specific mortality rates. In rethinking this publication, a number of regional and global initiatives and strategies, such as the Regional Plan of Action for the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases; PAHO’s Universal Access to Health and Universal Health Coverage Strategy and the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Global Reference List of 100 Core Health Indicators, were taken into consideration.
In order to achieve enhanced monitoring of the progress of health initiatives as well as to measure inequities regarding health between and within countries and to gauge the impact of health policies, it is essential to improve the quality, reliability and availability of data and indicators. In the words of Sir Michael Marmot, “It is difficult to measure progress if we do not have good data.” As part of this year’s analysis, three current regional challenges are being addressed in this publication:
• A brief analysis of the unconditional probability of dying prematurely from four major noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) in the Americas is being presented as this disease group represents a major challenge for social and economic development in the Region.
• The noticeable differentials in the quality of mortality information, as measured by the garbage code indicator, is being presented as it strongly underscores the critical need for strengthening of vital statistics in the Region.
• Health inequality in life expectancy at birth is being highlighted as there are substantial differences among countries in the Region...