Fact sheets

The theme of this year's World Blood Donor Day is "Blood connects us all". It focuses on thanking blood donors and highlights the dimension of "sharing" and "connection" between blood donors and patients. In addition, we have adopted the slogan "Share life, give blood", to draw attention to the roles that voluntary donation systems play in encouraging people to care for one another and promote community cohesion. 


The simple act of breastfeeding has numerous health advantages for both mothers and their babies: in terms of NCD prevention, breastfeeding has long-term benefits in the form of reduced risk of chronic illness. The World Health Organization recommends early initiation of breastfeeding (within the first hour after birth) and exclusive breastfeeding (no water, other fluids or foods) for 6 months, followed by continued breastfeeding for 2 years or beyond with the addition of timely, adequate, safe and properly fed complementary foods.


PAHO has a longstanding history of working with ministries of health in the Americas to improve quality of and access to radiotherapy services and to strengthen capacity for cancer treatment, in collaboration with the International Atomic Energy Agency. Among other advances, PAHO has helped establish demonstration projects using alternative screening approaches in several countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.


Chagas disease or American trypanosomiasis is a parasitic disease caused by the protozoan Trypanosoma cruzi. It is transmitted by Triatominae insects, especially the so-called "kissing bugs" that typically colonize poor-quality dwellings, hiding during the day and becoming active at night, biting people while they are asleep.


Chagas disease or American trypanosomiasis is a parasitic disease caused by the protozoan Trypanosoma cruzi. The disease is considered within the group of neglected diseases or a disease of poverty. It is endemic in 21 countries in the Americas.


Chikungunya is a viral disease transmitted to humans through the bites of mosquitoes infected with the chikungunya virus. It was first described during an outbreak in southern Tanzania in 1952 and has now been identified in nearly 40 countries in Asia, Africa, Europe and, most recently, the Americas. Symptoms usually begin 4 to 8 days after a mosquito bite but can appear anywhere from 2 to 12 days.


This Chronic Diseases in the Americas fact sheet was distributed by PAHO when the Organization was invited to participate in a high-level panel briefing convened by the US Congressional Global Health Caucus and Medtronic on "Chronic Disease in Emerging Countries" at Capitol Hill, Washington, DC, on 13 July 2009. The purpose of the event was to call attention to the growing and devastating impact, both social and economic, of such diseases. Data was updated in November 2009.


Dengue is transmitted by the bite of a mosquito infected with one of the four dengue virus serotypes. It is a febrile illness that affects infants, young children, and adults, with symptoms ranging from mild fever to incapacitating high fever, with severe headache, pain behind the eyes, muscle and joint pain, and rash.


Diabetes is a serious, chronic disease that occurs either when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces. There are three major types of diabetes: type 1 diabetes which is the most frequent among children and adolescents; type 2 diabetes which is the most frequent among adults and it is linked to obesity or overweight, lack of physical activity and poor nutrition; and gestational diabetes which is a complication of pregnancy that affects an estimated 10% of pregnancies globally.


eHealth uses information and communication technologies to improve outcomes and increase cost-effectiveness in health and health-related fields, including healthcare services, health surveillance, health literature, health education, knowledge and research. Among the most promising areas of eHealth are electronic health records, teleHealth (including telemedicine), mHealth (using mobile devices in health), eLearning (including distance learning), continuing education in information and communication technologies, standardization and interoperability, social media and big data.


La esquistosomiasis es una infección parasitaria crónica causada por gusanos pequeños. En las Américas, la especie parasitaria que causa esquistosomiasis se llama Schistosoma mansoni.


The simple habit of washing hands with soap and water at critical times—especially before eating or preparing food and after using the toilet—can prevent nearly half of deaths from diarrhea and almost one-fourth of deaths from acute respiratory diseases. Hand washing promotion in schools plays a role in reducing absenteeism among primary school children.


Hantavirus (HV) is an emerging zoonotic disease transmitted by rodents such as mice and rats. It is characterized by symptoms of fever, myalgia, and gastrointestinal complaints, followed by sudden onset of respiratory distress and hypotension.


For seniors, good health helps ensure independence, security, and continued productivity in the later years. But non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes can diminish seniors' quality of life, raise health-care costs, and increase pressure on family members who are responsible for their care. 


The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) targets the immune system and weakens people's defense systems against infections and some types of cancer. As the virus destroys and impairs the function of immune cells, infected individuals gradually become immunodeficient. Immune function is typically measured by CD4 cell count.


In the Americas, leishmaniasis is a vector-borne disease that causes a set of clinical syndromes in humans that can affect the skin, mucous membranes, and viscera. It is caused by 22 species of protozoan parasites of the Leishmania genus and is transmitted to animals and humans through the bite of female sand flies of the Psychodidae family, colloquially known as chiclero, asa branca, palomilla, mosquito palha, or torito, among other names.


Leishmaniasis is a vector-borne disease with a wide variety of parasite species, reservoirs, and vectors involved in transmission. It is caused by different species of the protozoa Leishmania and is transmitted to animals and humans through a bite of insects in the Psychodidae family. Its presence is directly linked to poverty, but social, environmental, and climatalogic factors directly influence the disease's epidemiology.


Leprosy is caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium leprae, also known as Hansen's bacillus. The bacteria M. leprae multiplies very slowly and the disease has an average incubation period of five years. In some cases symptoms appear nine months after infection and in other cases can take up to 20 years.


Leprosy is caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium leprae, also known as Hansen's bacillus. It is a chronic infectious disease that evolves slowly, with an average incubation period of 5 years, although symptoms may take up to 20 years to appear.


Lymphatic filariasis is a parasitic infection caused by small worms (nematodes) and transmitted by Culex mosquitoes. Adult worms lodge in the lymphatic vessels and disrupt the normal functioning of the lymphatic system. The worms can live an average of six to eight years and throughout their life produce millions of small larvae (microfilariae) that circulate in the blood.


Lymphatic filariasis, commonly known as elephantiasis, is an infection in humans caused by the transmission of certain parasites known as filariae (filarial worms) by mosquitoes, including those of the genus Culex, which is widespread in urban and semiurban areas.


Malaria is caused by a Plasmodium parasite, transmitted by the bite of an infected Anopheles mosquito. Symptoms include fever, vomiting, and headache and can appear 10 to 15 days after a bite. Plasmodium vivax and P. falciparum are the most common malarial parasites, while P. malariae and P. ovale are rarer forms. Infection with P. falciparum is the most dangerous and if left untreated can lead to kidney and brain complications and even death.


In 2016, an international expert committee reviewed the epidemiological evidence presented by the member countries of the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) and determined that the Region of the Americas had eliminated endemic transmission of measles. This was announced at the 55th Directing Council of PAHO in September 2016.


Onchocerciasis is a disease produced by the parasite Onchocerca volvulus, which is transmitted to humans by black flies. This disease also called river blindness because the black flies' larvae reproduce in rivers and streams with rapid water flow.


Onchocerciasis is a disease produced by the parasite Onchocerca volvulus, which is transmitted to humans by black flies. This disease also called river blindness because the black flies' larvae reproduce in rivers and streams with rapid water flow. The transmission to human is by repeated exposure to infected insect bites.  Symptoms include severe itching, disfiguring skin conditions, and visual impairment, including permanent blindness.


In April 2015, an international expert committee reviewed epidemiological evidence presented by member countries of the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) and determined that the region had eliminated endemic transmission of rubella and congenital rubella syndrome (CRS).


Schistosomiasis is a chronic parasitic infection caused by small worms. In the Americas, the parasitic species that causes schistosomiasis is called Schistosoma mansoni.


Schistosomiasis is a chronic parasitic infection caused by parasitic worms. In the Americas, the only species found is Schistosoma mansoni, which is associated with intestinal schistosomiasis.


Harmful use of alcohol and misuse of prescription (especially psychotropic) drugs often go undetected in seniors because of the stigma associated with such use and because health professionals may confuse symptoms of a substance use disorder with age-related changes or mental health problems common in the elderly.


Mental health problems are common among seniors and may include isolation, affective and anxiety disorders, dementia, and psychosis, among others. Many seniors also suffer from sleep and behavioral disorders, cognitive deterioration or confusion states as a result of physical disorders or surgical interventions.


Soil-transmitted helminth (STH) infection, commonly referred to as intestinal worms, generally affects the poorest communities. Transmission occurs when eggs of the parasite are present in human feces and then contaminate the soil in areas with deficient sanitation systems.


La teniasis es una infección intestinal provocada por la tenia adulta. En el ser humano hay tres especies que la causan: Taenia solium, Taenia saginata y Taenia asiatica, si bien solamente T. solium es la especie que causa problemas graves de salud. Cisticercosis es la infección con la forma larvaria del parásito T. solium.


Trachoma is one of oldest infectious diseases known to man. It is caused by the bacteriumChlamydia trachomatis, which is transmitted through contact with the ocular secretions of infected people (shared use of towels and handkerchiefs, contact with fingers, etc.), as well by flies that help spread it. After years of repeated infection, the inside of the eyelid can become so severely scarred that it turns inward and causes the eyelashes to rub against the eyeball, damaging the cornea (front of the eye). If it is not treated, this condition leads to irreversible corneal opacity and blindness.


Trachoma is one of oldest infectious diseases known to humans. It is caused by the bacteria Chlamydia trachomatis, which is transmitted through contact with eye secretions of infected people (shared use of towels and handkerchiefs, contact with fingers, etc.), as well by flies that help spread it.


La tuberculosis es una enfermedad causada por una bacteria llamada M. tuberculosis que afecta preferentemente a los pulmones. Es una enfermedad prevenible y curable.


¿Visión? Un mundo libre de TB—Cero muertes, enfermedad y sufrimiento debido a la tuberculosis. ¿Meta? Poner fin a la epidemia mundial TB. Hitos para el año 2025: 75% reducción de la mortalidad por TB (comparada con 2015); 50% reducción de la tasa de incidencia de TB (menos de 55 casos por 100,000 habitantes); y no mas familias afectadas que se enfrenten a costos catastróficos debido a la TB.


TB multidrogorresistente (TB MDR) es causada por el bacilo resistente a isoniacida y rifampicina, los medicamentos de 1ra. línea más potentes contra la TB. TB extensamente resistente (TB XDR) es causada por el bacilo resistente a isoniacida y rifampicina, como también a cualquier fluoroquinolona e inyectables de 2da línea. El tratamiento de estas puede durar más de dos años, es más tóxico y mucho más caro.


West Nile virus is a member of the flavivirus genus and belongs to the Japanese encephalitis antigenic complex of the family Flaviviridae. It is transmitted by infected mosquitoes between and among humans and animals, including birds, which are the virus's reservoir host.


Yellow fever is an acute viral haemorrhagic disease that is endemic in tropical areas of Africa and Latin America. Cases can be difficult to distinguish from other viral hemorrhagic fevers such as arenavirus, hantavirus or dengue. Symptoms of yellow fever usually appear 3 to 6 days after the bite of an infected mosquito. In the initial phase, they include fever, muscle pain, headache, shivers, loss of appetite, and nausea or vomiting.