Telemedicine in Latin America: educating healthcare personnel

Investment in educational projects is one of the steps that public and private organizations in Latin America must take to boost the benefits of virtual health and telemedicine.An opinion paper written by Dr. Walter Curioso, from the University of Washington, in the United States, states that e-learning is probably the most viable option for providing fast and efficient knowledge to future healthcare professionals.Isabel Lobos, executive director of Tula Salud, an NGO that trains doctors and nurses virtually in Guatemala, agrees. For her, virtual programs can have a greater impact than face-to-face education in a country where there are 0.4 healthcare professionals per 1,000 people.“Educational processes usually reach the same people. We are talking about the institutional heads, the directors, or chiefs, those who are in a middle ground within the staff. Very rarely they can reach the grassroots, those who give care in less favorable conditions, much more solitary. These people should...

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Telemedicine in Latin America: invest to expand

In certain parts of Latin America, virtual health begins to take steps to meet the challenges and provide digital services to the population. One of the first is to design and execute investment projects in this new industry that gained momentum due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This is the private (green) and public (blue) expenditure on health in Latin American and Caribbean countries. (Source: WHO, Global Health Expenditure Database, 2016)According to the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), resources for telemedicine should be included in plans to improve infrastructure and equipment in healthcare centers. Its experts assure that it is necessary to overcome the inequality gaps that exist in Latin America in the 21st century. These are reflected, for example, in the 2018 Broadband Development Index, which revealed that the region lags the most advanced member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).One of the Latin Americ...

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Telemedicine in Latin America: the pending digital divide

Despite the benefits they generate during the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual health and telemedicine need to overcome challenges to grow in Latin America. One of the most prevalent is the digital divide that marginalizes those who live in the lowest socioeconomic strata and lack access to internet services.In 2017, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) estimated that there are more than 200 million people of working age who are digitally excluded in the region. A year later, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) reported that 56% of people used the internet, but only 45.5% of households had a broadband connection.These differences in Latin America are of concern to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), which states that "digital inclusion is a crucial element [...] in the region, where internet services [...] are considered essential to ensure the well-being of citizens".Entrepreneur Marcel Roehrs witnessed the backlog when he founded ...

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Telemedicine in Latin America: in search of trained personnel

The success of digital health and telemedicine depends on people with the training and experience to deliver top-caliber care. It is a visible reality in any territory, especially in Latin America, where more trained healthcare professionals are needed to provide services to the population.

According to 2017 statistics by the World Health Organization (WHO), the Latin American region registers one of the largest shortages of healthcare personnel in the world. On average there are 2.28 medical doctors per thousand inhabitants, a figure below the minimum level, which is 2.3 professionals per thousand people.

The need for human resources is most urgent in countries such as Haiti, Guyana, Honduras, and Guatemala, where there is less than one doctor per thousand inhabitants.
The relevance of nurses
The COVID-19 pandemic reinforced the importance of having nurses in healthcare services. Susan Groenwald, former president of Chamberlain University in the United States, explains: “They are th...

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Telemedicine in Latin America: an introduction

The COVID-19 pandemic broke paradigms of human work and, as expected, changed the medical industry. It triggered the practice of telemedicine and digital health. Patients stopped visiting clinics and started scheduling appointments and receiving care through their laptops, tablets, or smartphones.

This medical revolution seems to be growing every day in a world where more than half of the population uses the Internet. According to an article on medicaleconomics.com, the adoption of telehealth by patients in early 2020 increased by 33% over 2019. In addition, the market is expected to reach $185.6 billion by 2026.

According to Talía Wegman-Ostrosky, an oncogenetician at Mexico's National Cancer Institute, the advance of telemedicine responds to the facilities it offers compared to face-to-face services. For example, according to Forbes, it saves patients more than 100 minutes of their time compared to an in-person consultation.

"It's here to stay. [...] It avoids travel expenses, wai...

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Metabolic Dysfunction and How It Can Cause Diabetes and Chronic Diseases

I listened to another fascinating (albeit long) podcast on the Broken Brain series on how out-of-control blood sugar can cause belly fat, brain fog and chronic disease. Dr. Casey Means was the guest and she is a Stanford-trained doctor and associate editor of the International Journal of Disease Reversal and Prevention. Her mission is to reverse the epidemic of preventable chronic disease by empowering individuals with personalized tools (i.e. continuous glucose monitors – CGM) that promote sustainable dietary and lifestyle choices. As a pre-diabetic myself, I have been using some of these tools to monitor how my body responds to my diet and activities of daily living. I was quite shocked at what I learned from a month’s use of a CGM and if this blog speaks to you, it may be something you may want to discuss with your doctor.

Here are the highlights from the podcast:

We make energy from converting sugar and fat and this metabolic process is a core fundamental pathway of every ...

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5 Surprising Superfoods to Fight Diabetes

I hope you’ve read my earlier blogs on superfoods to fight diabetes/pre-diabetes. It’s good to know that there are many options out there to establish a healthy eating plan to control blood sugar/insulin and manage weight. Here are five more ordinary superfoods that are extraordinary for staving off/managing Types 2 diabetes. And even if you are not a pre-diabetic/diabetic, you can easily incorporate these key elements into your daily diet for a healthy lifestyle. Dark Chocolate Good news if you are a chocolate fan! Did you know that consumption of dark chocolate which is rich in flavonoids can improve your mood and add antioxidants while providing you with a satisfying and appetite-suppressing treat? In a recent study, parameters of lipid and glucose metabolism (cholesterol, LDL, triglycerides, waist circumference) improved after six months of daily intake of dark chocolate. Cocoa, the key ingredient in chocolate, contains antioxidant flavonoids which means they can reduce inflammatio...

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Surprising Ways to Help Fight Diabetes

In my first blog of this series, I wrote about common herbs and spices for fighting diabetes. Here, I will highlight ordinary superfoods that are quite extraordinary for controlling glucose, insulin and staving off/managing Types 2 diabetes.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Did you know that drinking some apple cider vinegar before meals and at bedtime has been shown to lower post-meal glucose levels by 34%? Vinegar slows the absorption of carbohydrates into the blood or slows the breakdown of starches into sugars. The study also showed that vinegar increases insulin sensitivity, similar to metformin, a common diabetes drug. This study showed that consuming vinegar at bedtime reduced fasting blood glucose in the morning. This is great news for me as I tend to have a higher faster blood glucose level in the morning.

Top Tip: I love to add a tablespoon or two of apple cider vinegar to my morning cup of water (8oz) with a flavored electrolyte tablet or to my sparkling water (I’m a fan of P...

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Dr. Daniel Amen Podcast Review: Memory Rescue – How to Stop Alzheimer’s & Dementia

Dr. Daniel Amen is one of the leading authorities on brain health – he is a physician, founder of Amen Clinics and BrainMD, a double board-certified psychiatrist and nine-time New York Times bestselling author.  I found this podcast easy to listen to with great tips from his Memory Rescue book (published in 2018) on how to take control of your brain. Here are the key highlights: Alzheimer’s disease is expected to quadruple in the next 35 years. What most people don’t realize is that this disease starts decades before symptoms appear. Based on imaging studies, a 59-year-old woman diagnosed with Alzheimer’s most likely had negative changes to her brain in her twenties. There is also no known cure on the horizon and it is estimated that 50% of people 85 or older will be diagnosed with it.  This may be a cause for people not wanting longevity in their life!   Depression has increased by 400% since 1987 and it now affects 50 million Americans. It is also a major risk factor for Alzheimer’s....

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5 Natural Approaches for Managing Diabetes

In the United States, an estimated 30 million adults live with diabetes. This chronic illness can take a toll on individuals and families, with frequent doctor’s visits, medication costs, and dietary restrictions. Still, there are a number of natural remedies that can assist people with diabetes with the daily management of their condition. Nutritional supplements and mind-body practices hold promise for helping individuals with diabetes stay on track and even reduce symptom severity.This article details five natural, research-based remedies for individuals with diabetes. Below you’ll find information on the benefits of two dietary components: cinnamon and fiber, as well as the mind-body practices of Qi Gong, acupuncture, and yoga. Continue reading to learn about the simple steps you can take toward the prevention and management of diabetes.Nutrition and Dietary SupplementsNutritional supplements are a common approach to the natural prevention and management of a number of conditions, ...

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