Both the expansion of life expectancy, within the more or less constant biologically determined life span, as well as the compression of morbidity, i.e., the reduction of the disease burden by postponing the age of onset of chronic infirmity relative to average life duration, are taking place in the populations across the Region of the Americas.
The date 15 June 2007 marks a milestone in global public health. On this date, the new International Health Regulations (IHR ) entered into force. The purpose of the IHR (2005) is “to prevent, protect against, control and provide a public health response to the international spread of disease in ways that are commensurate with and restricted to public health risks, and which avoid unnecessary interference with international traffic and trade.” Indeed, the IHR have become the basic legal instrument for global health security. The IHR (2005) spell out the procedures for early reporting to PAHO/WHO of events that represent global health risks, including those of chemical and nuclear origin, and, if necessary, for mounting a coordinated response to them.
On 25 April 2009, the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared a public health emergency of international concern for the first time since the IHR (2005) entered into force on 15 June 2007. This declaration was made as a result of the 21 April detection of a new influenza virus, the A (H1N1) virus, by the laboratories of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia.
In Latin America and the Caribbean, around 127 million people live in poverty. Neglected diseases – diseases against which there are cost-effective measures but that for various reasons do not receive adequate attention, such as lymphatic filariasis, oncocercosis, Chagas disease or neonatal tetanus - are often restricted to marginalized sections of the population, including the rural poor, slum residents, migrant workers, women, and indigenous people. These groups suffer a higher burden of parasitic and other diseases related to an insufficient access to drinking water, sanitation, adequate housing, education, and a lack of access to health services—for them, neglected diseases are both a cause and a consequence of poverty. Most of them cause chronic conditions that can reduce learning capabilities, productivity, and income earning capacity.
The uses of surveillance data include the description and comparison of disease patterns using the person, place, and time variables. In particular, examples of the use of the time variable can be found in the earliest known epidemiological studies. For example, in a report on the 1847 influenza epidemic in London, William Farr presented data collected by week and easily calculated the excess of mortality due to influenza in different periods of the year. (1)
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