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Disaster Med Public Health Prep ; : 1-8, 2022 Aug 22.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2318122


OBJECTIVE: The article seeks to assess the Brazilian health system ability to respond to the challenges imposed by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic by measuring the capacity of Brazilian hospitals to care for COVID-19 cases in the 450 Health Regions of the country during the year 2020. Hospital capacity refers to the availability of hospital beds, equipment, and human resources. METHODS: We used longitudinal data from the National Register of Health Facilities (CNES) regarding the availability of resources necessary to care for patients with COVID-19 in inpatient facilities (public or private) from January to December 2020. Among the assessed resources are health professionals (certified nursing assistants, nurses, physical therapists, and doctors), hospital beds (clinical, intermediate care, and intensive care units), and medical equipment (computed tomography scanners, defibrillators, electrocardiograph monitors, ventilators, and resuscitators). In addition to conducting a descriptive analysis of absolute and relative data (per 10,000 users), a synthetic indicator named Installed Capacity Index (ICI) was calculated using the multivariate principal component analysis technique to assess hospital capacity. The indicator was further stratified into value ranges to understand its evolution. RESULTS: There was an increase in all selected indicators between January and December 2020. It was possible to observe differences between the Northeast and North regions and the other regions of the country; most Health Regions presented low ICI. The ICI increased between the beginning and the end of 2020, but this evolution differed among Health Regions. The average increase in the ICI was more evident in the groups that already had considerably high baseline capacity in January 2020. CONCLUSIONS: It was possible to identify inequalities in the hospital capacity to care for patients affected by COVID -19 in the Health Regions of Brazil, with a concentration of low index values in the Northeast and North of the country. As the indicator increased throughout the year 2020, inequalities were also observed. The information here provided may be used by health authorities, providers, and managers in planning and adjusting for future COVID-19 care and in dimensioning the adequate supply of hospital beds, health-care professionals, and devices in Health Regions to reduce associated morbidity and mortality. We recommend that the ICI continue to be calculated in the coming months of the pandemic to monitor the capacity in the country's Health Regions.