In 2014, the World Health Organization (WHO) along with its member States carried out various tasks, activities and efforts aimed at improving the quality of life of millions of people throughout the world.
In Latin America and the Caribbean, 30% of the population has no access to health care due to economic reasons. In September of 2014, health authorities in the region agreed to reverse this situation in order to make health coverage universal. For instance, Chikungunya, a mosquito-borne virus imported from Africa, which affected more than one million people in Latin America, showed its first case in the region in December 2013 on a Caribbean island. WHO has provided assistance to countries so that they can monitor the evolution of this infection, in order to identify and handle cases, and therefore prepare and organize health services.
In August 2014, WHO declared the outbreak of ebola in West Africa, which constituted a public health emergency of international importance. Since then, WHO has been working with countries in the region to ensure a rapid response to the possible import of a case and prevent the spread of the disease.
Similarly, in 2014, a WHO report showed that the number of people with HIV receiving antiretroviral treatment in Latin America and the Caribbean grew almost four times between 2003 and 2013. Another WHO/UNICEF study showed that the number of babies born with HIV dropped 78% from 2001 to 2013.
During the FIFA World Cup 2014 in Brazil, WHO launched a campaign aimed at getting people vaccinated against measles and rubella, in order to prevent the reintroduction of these diseases in the region. This year, WHO also supported the vaccination campaign against cholera in Haiti and the campaign against HPV in Brazil, whose introduction expanded access to this vaccine to more than 80% of adolescent girls in all Latin America.
On the other hand, nearly 65,000 people commit suicide each year in Latin America. This year, WHO focused on this problem of relevant importance. In addition, a new study showed that alcohol contributes to the death of at least 80,000 people each year in Latin America and the Caribbean. In the majority of Latin American countries, liver diseases were the leading cause of alcohol-related deaths, followed by psychiatric disorders.
Finally, maternal mortality reduced on average by 40% between 1990-2013 in 11 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, according to a UN report. However, no country in the region is in condition to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which are aimed at reducing maternal mortality by 2015 75%.