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Latin America and Caribbean

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Economic Transformation In Latin America An Opportunity To Improve NTD Strategies, DNDi Regional Director Says

“The rise of emerging economies in Latin America is an opportunity to improve strategies for fighting neglected illnesses and increase the region’s contribution to the global struggle against them, says” Eric Stobbaerts, the Latin America director of the independent Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi), Inter Press Service reports. “Our region is going through a major transformation in economic and social terms,” Stobbaerts told IPS after a meeting on “Uniting to Combat Neglected Tropical Diseases” (NTDs) held in London on January 30, “mentioning the progress that has been made in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Chile and Mexico,” IPS writes.

Discrimination Against LGBT Population Undermining HIV Prevention Efforts In Guatemala, IPS Reports

Inter Press Service examines discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in Guatemala, where advocates and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) say such discrimination is undermining HIV prevention and treatment. Carolos Valdez of the NGO Proyecto Unidos “said the country has taken ‘few steps’ for preventing the spread of HIV among vulnerable groups,” including “opening five clinics catering to members of sexual minorities,” IPS writes.

Unexplained Kidney Disease Affecting Rural Workers Across Central America, PRI’s ‘The World’ Reports

PRI’s “The World” reports on an epidemic of an unexplained kidney disease that is affecting rural workers across Central America, writing, “[I]t’s the second biggest cause of death among men in El Salvador, and in Nicaragua it’s a bigger killer of men than HIV and diabetes combined,” and “the latest theory is that the victims are literally working themselves to death.” According to the news service, “El Salvador’s health minister recently called on the international community for help,” stating that “the epidemic is ‘wasting away our populations.'”

New Global Map Shows Difficult-To-Treat Malaria Strain Remains Prevalent In Asia, Latin America

“Declining malaria deaths in Africa and progress toward an effective malaria vaccine are raising hopes the disease will soon be eradicated worldwide,” but “researchers at the annual meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTMH) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, [on Monday] unveiled a new global malaria map that raises new concerns about the disease,” VOA News writes (Sinha, 12/5). The researchers from Britain’s Oxford University mapped the Plasmodium vivax malaria parasite, “which is often recurring and can be deadly,” and found it is “endemic in substantial parts of the world,” particularly in Asia and Latin America, Reuters writes (Kelland, 12/5).

Latin American, Caribbean National Rotavirus Immunization Campaigns Show Success, CDC Report Says

“Fourteen of the 32 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean make the rotavirus vaccine available for all infants via national programs,” according to a report published Friday in the CDC’s “Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report,” United Press International reports. Approximately “seven million infants, 66 percent of the infants born in Latin America and the Caribbean, were immunized in 2010 against rotavirus infection — the most common cause of severe diarrhea among infants and young children, and one of several viruses that cause infections often called stomach flu,” the news agency writes. The WHO recommends rotavirus vaccination for children worldwide, the report noted, stating, “Studies from countries in this region have shown declines in the burden of hospitalizations and deaths related to severe diarrhea after rotavirus vaccine introduction,” according to UPI (12/2).

Bloomberg Examines Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Initiative And Potential Impact To U.S. Global Efforts To Tackle HIV

Bloomberg examines how a trade agreement being negotiated by leaders of the nine Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) countries — Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam, and the United States — could potentially make it more difficult for people in TPP nations to get new generic drugs and may impact U.S.-led global efforts to tackle HIV/AIDS as outlined by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a recent speech at the NIH.

IPS Examines HIV In The Caribbean, Highlights Challenges In Addressing At-Risk Populations

Inter Press Service examines HIV in the Caribbean, where “the HIV burden varies considerably among and within countries” in the region. “‘I think the prevention programs in many countries are not reaching the right people,’ Michel de Groulards, regional program adviser of the UNAIDS Caribbean Regional Support Team, told IPS,” the news service writes, adding, “One factor, de Groulards believed, may be that after 25 years of providing treatment, some countries have reached a plateau. In other cases, people considered at risk, including [men who have sex with men], are not targeted.” IPS writes that “even as Caribbean politicians, scientists, researchers, academics and other stakeholders continue to examine ways of dealing with the virus, 30 years after the first case was recorded in the region, there is growing recognition that cuts in overseas funding could seriously hamper future success” (Richards, 11/21).

U.N. Official Urges Donors To Provide More Relief For Flooding In Central America

Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy U.N. Emergency Relief Coordinator Catherine Bragg on Tuesday “urged donors to give generously to assist Nicaragua and El Salvador cope with the aftermath of the recent floods, saying that the scale of the disaster is beyond what the small Central American nations can handle on their own,” the U.N. News Centre reports. According to the news service, approximately 1.2 million people in the region are affected by flooding, “[t]housands of homes have been damaged and hundreds of schools, roads and health facilities are closed,” and [w]ater-borne diseases are spreading …, she added.” Bragg also said food security was a concern, as thousands of acres of crops were destroyed, “‘making it increasingly difficult for people to get enough food for the next six months,’ she stated,” the news service notes (11/8).

Obesity Affecting Wealthy, Middle Classes More Than Poor In Developing Countries, Study Says

“‘First world’ health problems such as obesity and heart disease may be gaining ground in developing nations, but they are mostly afflicting the rich and middle class while poor people remain undernourished and underweight,” according to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Reuters reports. “Researchers who looked at more than 500,000 women from 37 mid- and low-income nations in Asia, Africa and South America found that there was a clear divide between the better-off and the poor,” Reuters states, adding, “Across countries, the wealthier the women were, the higher their average [body mass index (BMI)], a pattern that held steady over time.” The news service notes, “The pattern is different from that seen in wealthy nations, such as the United States, where lower incomes and less education often correlate with higher weight” (Norton, 11/3).

Bloomberg News Examines How Latin American Countries’ Abortion Policies May Hold Lessons For Republican Presidential Candidates Supporting Abortion Bans In U.S.

Bloomberg News examines abortion laws in Latin America and writes that the region, “home to the world’s strictest abortion laws, may hold lessons for U.S. Republican presidential hopefuls who advocate a ban on the practice” in the U.S. According to Bloomberg, “A consequence of the laws, whatever the moral arguments, is that Latin American women have more ‘unsafe’ abortions per capita than women in any other region, according to the World Health Organization.” The article reports that the U.N. Human Rights Council Special Rapporteur on Health Anand Grover recently stated that “[s]trict abortion laws ‘consistently generate poor physical health outcomes, resulting in deaths.'”