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Epidemiology in Latin America and the Caribbean: current situation and challenges

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      Abstract

      Background This article analyses the epidemiological research developments in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC). It integrates the series commissioned by the International Epidemiological Association to all WHO Regions to identify global opportunities to promote the development of epidemiology.Methods Health situations of the regions were analysed based on published data on selected mortality, morbidity and risk factors. Epidemiological publication output by country was estimated by Medline bibliometrics. Internet and literature searches and data provided by key informants were used to describe perspectives on epidemiological training, research and funding.Findings Despite important advances in recent decades, LAC remains the world's most unequal region. In 2010, 10% of the LAC's people still lived in conditions of multidimensional poverty, with huge variation among countries. The region has experienced fast and complex epidemiological changes in past decades, combining increasing rates of non-communicable diseases and injuries, and keeping uncontrolled many existing endemic and emerging diseases. Overall, epidemiological publications per year increased from 160 articles between 1961 and 1970 to 2492 between 2001 and 2010. The increase in papers per million inhabitants in the past three decades varied from 57% in Panama to 1339% in Paraguay. Universities are the main epidemiological training providers. There are at least 34 universities and other institutions in the region that offer postgraduate programmes at the master’s and doctoral levels in epidemiology or public health. Most LAC countries rely largely on external funding and donors to initiate and sustain long-term research efforts. Despite the limited resources, the critical mass of LAC researchers has produced significant scientific contributions.Future needs The health research panorama of the region shows enormous regional discrepancies, but great prospects. Improving research and human resources capacity in the region will require establishing research partnerships within and outside the region, between rich and poor countries, promoting collaborations between LAC research institutions and universities to boost postgraduate programmes and aligning research investments and outputs with the current burden of disease.

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      Global and regional burden of disease and risk factors, 2001: systematic analysis of population health data.

      Our aim was to calculate the global burden of disease and risk factors for 2001, to examine regional trends from 1990 to 2001, and to provide a starting point for the analysis of the Disease Control Priorities Project (DCPP). We calculated mortality, incidence, prevalence, and disability adjusted life years (DALYs) for 136 diseases and injuries, for seven income/geographic country groups. To assess trends, we re-estimated all-cause mortality for 1990 with the same methods as for 2001. We estimated mortality and disease burden attributable to 19 risk factors. About 56 million people died in 2001. Of these, 10.6 million were children, 99% of whom lived in low-and-middle-income countries. More than half of child deaths in 2001 were attributable to acute respiratory infections, measles, diarrhoea, malaria, and HIV/AIDS. The ten leading diseases for global disease burden were perinatal conditions, lower respiratory infections, ischaemic heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, HIV/AIDS, diarrhoeal diseases, unipolar major depression, malaria, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and tuberculosis. There was a 20% reduction in global disease burden per head due to communicable, maternal, perinatal, and nutritional conditions between 1990 and 2001. Almost half the disease burden in low-and-middle-income countries is now from non-communicable diseases (disease burden per head in Sub-Saharan Africa and the low-and-middle-income countries of Europe and Central Asia increased between 1990 and 2001). Undernutrition remains the leading risk factor for health loss. An estimated 45% of global mortality and 36% of global disease burden are attributable to the joint hazardous effects of the 19 risk factors studied. Uncertainty in all-cause mortality estimates ranged from around 1% in high-income countries to 15-20% in Sub-Saharan Africa. Uncertainty was larger for mortality from specific diseases, and for incidence and prevalence of non-fatal outcomes. Despite uncertainties about mortality and burden of disease estimates, our findings suggest that substantial gains in health have been achieved in most populations, countered by the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Sub-Saharan Africa and setbacks in adult mortality in countries of the former Soviet Union. Our results on major disease, injury, and risk factor causes of loss of health, together with information on the cost-effectiveness of interventions, can assist in accelerating progress towards better health and reducing the persistent differentials in health between poor and rich countries.
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        World Health Organization.

         Ala Alwan (2007)
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          Body-mass index and cause-specific mortality in 900 000 adults: collaborative analyses of 57 prospective studies

          Summary Background The main associations of body-mass index (BMI) with overall and cause-specific mortality can best be assessed by long-term prospective follow-up of large numbers of people. The Prospective Studies Collaboration aimed to investigate these associations by sharing data from many studies. Methods Collaborative analyses were undertaken of baseline BMI versus mortality in 57 prospective studies with 894 576 participants, mostly in western Europe and North America (61% [n=541 452] male, mean recruitment age 46 [SD 11] years, median recruitment year 1979 [IQR 1975–85], mean BMI 25 [SD 4] kg/m2). The analyses were adjusted for age, sex, smoking status, and study. To limit reverse causality, the first 5 years of follow-up were excluded, leaving 66 552 deaths of known cause during a mean of 8 (SD 6) further years of follow-up (mean age at death 67 [SD 10] years): 30 416 vascular; 2070 diabetic, renal or hepatic; 22 592 neoplastic; 3770 respiratory; 7704 other. Findings In both sexes, mortality was lowest at about 22·5–25 kg/m2. Above this range, positive associations were recorded for several specific causes and inverse associations for none, the absolute excess risks for higher BMI and smoking were roughly additive, and each 5 kg/m2 higher BMI was on average associated with about 30% higher overall mortality (hazard ratio per 5 kg/m2 [HR] 1·29 [95% CI 1·27–1·32]): 40% for vascular mortality (HR 1·41 [1·37–1·45]); 60–120% for diabetic, renal, and hepatic mortality (HRs 2·16 [1·89–2·46], 1·59 [1·27–1·99], and 1·82 [1·59–2·09], respectively); 10% for neoplastic mortality (HR 1·10 [1·06–1·15]); and 20% for respiratory and for all other mortality (HRs 1·20 [1·07–1·34] and 1·20 [1·16–1·25], respectively). Below the range 22·5–25 kg/m2, BMI was associated inversely with overall mortality, mainly because of strong inverse associations with respiratory disease and lung cancer. These inverse associations were much stronger for smokers than for non-smokers, despite cigarette consumption per smoker varying little with BMI. Interpretation Although other anthropometric measures (eg, waist circumference, waist-to-hip ratio) could well add extra information to BMI, and BMI to them, BMI is in itself a strong predictor of overall mortality both above and below the apparent optimum of about 22·5–25 kg/m2. The progressive excess mortality above this range is due mainly to vascular disease and is probably largely causal. At 30–35 kg/m2, median survival is reduced by 2–4 years; at 40–45 kg/m2, it is reduced by 8–10 years (which is comparable with the effects of smoking). The definite excess mortality below 22·5 kg/m2 is due mainly to smoking-related diseases, and is not fully explained. Funding UK Medical Research Council, British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK, EU BIOMED programme, US National Institute on Aging, and Clinical Trial Service Unit (Oxford, UK).
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            Author and article information

            Affiliations
            1Faculdade de Medicina, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Brazil, 2CRONICAS, Center of Excellence in Chronic Diseases, 3Department of Medicine, School of Medicine, Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia, Peru, 4University of the West Indies, Mona, Kingston, Jamaica, 5Faculdade de Medicina, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, 6Department of Public Health, School of Medicine, Universidad de La Frontera, Chile, 7Facultad de Medicina, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico and 8Health Surveillance Secretariat, Ministry of Health, Brazil
            Author notes
            *Corresponding author. Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Av Alfredo Balena 190, sl 814, Belo Horizonte, CEP 30190100, MG, Brazil. E-mail: sbarreto@ 123456medicina.ufmg.br
            Journal
            Int J Epidemiol
            Int J Epidemiol
            ije
            intjepid
            International Journal of Epidemiology
            Oxford University Press
            0300-5771
            1464-3685
            April 2012
            8 March 2012
            8 March 2012
            : 41
            : 2
            : 557-571
            3324459
            22407860
            10.1093/ije/dys017
            dys017
            Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the International Epidemiological Association © The Author 2012; all rights reserved.

            This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0), which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

            Counts
            Pages: 15
            Categories
            Global Status of Epidemiology

            Comments

            An article that perfectly highlights current challenges in Latin America and Caribbean region. It raises important issues such as inequalities and discrepancies in the region, but also shows what progress is made and elaborates on future needs.

            2015-06-11 11:16 UTC
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