Preventable diseases that harm Latinos the most


Diseases known to afflict developing countries–like HIV/AIDS, dengue fever and malaria–can be devastating, but it’s not diseases of this nature that health officials at Latin American countries are most concerned about. There are only three diseases that affect Latinos the most.Ecuadorian Health Minister Carina Vance stated that three preventable diseases are more a threat to Latin America than infectious diseases that are endemic to certain regions or certain populations.

  1. Diabetes

Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects Latinos at an alarming rate, both in parts of Latin America and the U.S. While at first glance some less severe cases might look like just a matter of cutting out sugar and checking your blood sugar, the severe effects of diabetes can cause severe complications and sometimes death.

“Chronic diseases are the cause of most deaths among our populations and those are diseases we can prevent. That is the big challenge,” Vance said during an interview with EFE. “[In Latin America] the diseases causing more deaths and disabilities are, without any doubt, chronic illnesses like diabetes, hypertension and cancer.”

  1. High Blood Pressure/Hypertension

Bad diet, lack of exercise and a stressful lifestyle, along with excessive work can all lead to high blood pressure in Latinos. If left unchecked and untreated with changes in lifestyle and sometimes medication, high blood pressure is typically the precursor to heart disease.

  1. Cancer

As with hypertension, and diabetes, cancer, in many instances, is a disease that can be prevented with lifestyle changes. Early detection of cancer and treatment can also be a lifesaver.

Ecuador has made great strides against diseases associated with developing nations; it is the second country to have eradicated the parasitic disease onchocerciasis, also known as river blindness. Next, the nation will set its sights on malaria, a mosquito-borne illness naturally occurring in many Latin American countries. According to Vance, it is easy to target illnesses of this nature, or “poverty diseases,” because social behaviors are not at the core of  of why the population is affected.

Diabetes, hypertension and cancer, however, can be directly linked to the behaviors of people affected.

“Currently a big challenge are non-infectious diseases related to social behavior, and the ability of the government to provide the means to make information accessible to the population and to implement other strategies,” said Vance. “There is an important role for the government to play, but there is a role also for the population that is important.”

However, as a non-medical professional, you must, do your part to improve your health, and to make sure you tell abuela, abuelo, mami and papi that their lifestyle might be killing them. Inform yourself and inform them before they have a chronic health problem on their hands.

Ecuador is considering the implementation of an unhealthy consumption penalty, similar to the sugary beverage tax recently passed in Mexico. Diabetes alone in Ecuador and Latin America is a huge public health concern. Similar measures among the rest of the Latin American community might reap big benefits.

The International Diabetes Federation estimates type 2 diabetes rates in Latin America will grow 60 percent by the year 2035 if no major changes are made, and some countries have already seen diabetes replace other health issues as the leading cause of death.

Other countries in Latin America should be taking note.

In addition to regulating unhealthy food advertisements and sales, Vance indicated, in the interview that government involvement must also take a close look at current health care systems. “Latin America must be a region where health care moves from being a privilege for the few who have money to buy a service to a region where health care is a fundamental and basic right for all,” she concluded.

Enfermedades conocidos afligiendo los países en desarrollo como el VIH / SIDA, el dengue y la malaria puede ser devastador, pero no es enfermedades de esta naturaleza que los funcionarios de salud en países de América Latina que más les preocupa. Hay sólo tres enfermedades que afectan a los latinos más.

El ministro de Salud de Ecuador Carina Vance menciona que tres enfermedades prevenibles son una amenaza para América Latina de las enfermedades infecciosas que son endémicas en ciertas regiones o determinadas poblaciones.

  1. Diabetes

La diabetes es una enfermedad crónica que afecta a los latinos a un ritmo alarmante, tanto en partes de América Latina y los EE.UU. Si bien a primera vista algunos casos menos graves puede ser una cuestión de quitar el azúcar y el control de su azúcar en la sangre, los graves efectos de la diabetes puede causar complicaciones graves y en ocasiones la muerte.

“Las enfermedades crónicas son la causa de la mayoría de las muertes entre nuestras poblaciones y esas son las enfermedades que podemos prevenir. Ese es el gran desafío “, dijo Vance durante una entrevista con Efe. “[En Latinoamérica] las enfermedades que causan más muertes y discapacidades son, sin lugar a dudas, las enfermedades crónicas como la diabetes, la hipertensión y el cáncer.”

  1. Presión Alta / Hipertensión

Mala alimentación, falta de ejercicio y un estilo de vida estresante, junto con el exceso de trabajo pueden llevar a la presión arterial alta en los latinos. Si no se controla ni se trata con cambios en el estilo de vida y, a veces la medicación, la presión arterial alta suele ser el precursor de la enfermedad cardíaca.

  1. Cáncer

A con la hipertensión y la diabetes, el cáncer, en muchos casos, es una enfermedad que se puede prevenir con cambios de estilo de vida. La detección temprana del cáncer y el tratamiento también puede ser un salvavidas.

La diabetes, la hipertensión y el cáncer, sin embargo, pueden estar directamente relacionados con las conductas de las personas afectadas.