CMC – The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) says stigma and discrimination are major barriers to health for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people throughout the Americas, including the Caribbean.
“By universal health, we mean that everyone – irrespective of their socioeconomic background, ethnicity, gender or race-is covered by a well-financed, well-organized health system offering quality and comprehensive health services,” said PAHO Director Dominican-born director Dr. Carissa F. Etienne.
In an addressing to an event here marking Universal Health Day and Human Rights Day, she said “stigma and discrimination are a major barrier for access and utilization of health services for LGBT persons, hence the importance to better understand the causes and develop innovative health system responses to meet their specific and differentiated needs”.
Dr. Etienne pointed to research, which she said, shows that stigma against homosexuality and ignorance about gender identity are widespread, both in society at large and within health systems.
“Discrimination can result in outright refusal to provide care, poor-quality care, and disrespectful or abusive treatment, among others,” she said.
“Healthcare providers may also have a poor understanding of the specific healthcare needs of LGBT people, for example, trauma-related and behavioural health issues that they face as a result of discrimination.”