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Oct 16 2020


10:00 am - 12:00 pm

PAHO hosts health tax webinar

(CMR) On Friday, 16 October 2020, from 10.00 am – 12:00 pm (time in Washington, DC) the Pan American Health Organization and the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAT) will host the webinar “The role of health taxes in health systems during and post COVID-19 in the Caribbean”.

The COVID-19 pandemic is causing large-scale loss of life and severe human suffering. It is a public health crisis without precedent in living memory. But the pandemic has also set in motion a major economic crisis that will burden our societies for years to come. The health and economic impact of this crisis are increased by the unprecedented deadly relationship between an infectious disease, COVID-19, and Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs). Indeed, the scientific evidence indicates that those with NCDs are at higher risk of serious complications if they contract COVID-19.

Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) and their risk factors are the main cause of morbidity, mortality and disability, and constitute a complex public health challenge, as well as a serious threat to economic and social development. In the Caribbean, NCDs cause approximately 76.8% of all deaths. Of this total number of deaths from NCDs, 38.1% are premature deaths occurring in people under 70 years of age. Macroeconomic simulations suggest that globally, cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease, cancer, diabetes, and mental health could cost cumulative production losses of USD 47 trillion(approximatively 75% of 2010 global GDP) during the two decades 2010-2030.

In response to the COVID-19 crisis, governments around the world have ramped up their relief and stimulus spending to unprecedented levels—just as tax revenues have slumped. While health and social expenditures have risen, tax revenues have plummeted. At the same time, many Caribbean countries are dealing with high public debt burdens. In 2019, 10 Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Member States had total public debt above the sustainable threshold of 60% of GDP. As a result of
COVID-19, governments will be forced to run budget deficits to cope with the fiscal fallout of the pandemic. This will worsen the public debt burden of the Caribbean and more countries stand the risk of falling into an unsustainable debt bracket.

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