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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Why older adults should practice calisthenics

Cristian Bianchi has been a physical trainer for more than five years. He founded one of the first gyms specialized in calisthenics in Guatemala City, with the objective of offering people an opportunity to forge healthy lifestyles.He learned about this training method during one of his trips to Europe. It consists of using only the body's weight during exercise. The goal is to gain control of body mass, without the need for resistance or additional loads.In 2015, the American College of Sports Medicine (ASCM) indicated that calisthenics is the leading sport in the world. In addition, it said it helps reduce the number of individuals who die from lack of physical activity, which, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), amounts to approximately 3.2 million each year.For Bianchi, this training is key to reducing that global figure and is far from excluding people because of their age. In 2021 he serves about 120 students in his gym, three of which are senior citizens.Today he e...

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Kicking off the New Year With Intent – Diet and Exercise

I’m sure many of us are happy to say goodbye to 2020 and have plans to kick off the new year with resolutions, lifestyle changes and programs to improve our well-being. I am not a fan of New Year’s resolutions as I always break them so I prefer to make small changes as I go. So in this blog, I’m providing some simple tips and guidelines on diet and exercise that you could consider and easily adopt as part of your new lifestyle in 2021. Diet It’s often easier to add something to a diet than to eliminate something completely. So, here are some suggestions on what to add to your diet to improve your overall well-being when it comes to eating. Fat – Opt for healthy fats like olives, avocados, flax seeds, MCT oil and fat from pasture-raised meats and wild-caught small fishFruit – Stick with low-glycemic fruits like berries and grapefruit and eat them whole with the fiber, not in juice formNon-starchy veggies, cruciferous vegetables and mushrooms – Kale, Swiss chard, lettuces, fennel, leeks,...

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Dr. Joel Kahn Podcast Review: Heart Health, Mitochondria & The Gut

I recently listened to one of the earlier podcasts by Dave Asprey (the Bulletproof Executive) on heart health where he interviewed Dr. Joel Kahn, a cardiologist and author of the best-selling book, The Whole Heart Solution. Dr. Kahn is a well-recognized clinician in the field of invasive, interventional and preventative cardiology and was awarded the title of “America’s Holistic Heart Doc” by Reader’s Digest. He is a Clinical Professor of Medicine at Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit, MI and the Director of Cardiac Wellness.

It was interesting to hear that Dr. Kahn is a low-fat vegan (which is something Dave Asprey is not a fan of for various reasons) and in this interview, he mentioned that when dealing with patients with cardiac artery disease (CAD), a mostly vegetable and low fat diet (oil free, not fat free) has been proven to help. Note that he didn’t advocate this necessarily for prevention but for treating severe CAD patients.

Here are some key highlights:
...

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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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Tackling Coronavirus: How I Boost My Immune System

With Coronavirus dominating the headlines and being classified as a global pandemic, people are looking for natural ways to boost immunity and/or lessen the severity of cold and flu-like symptoms. My philosophy has always been prevention so here are some of the things I do to keep my immunity level functioning at its peak.Sleep – This is a simple solution but not easy to achieve for many including myself. I have trouble staying asleep so some of the things I do to try and get as many hours of sleep include:No drinking liquids after 7:30pm (to minimize middle of the night restroom visits)Turning off all electronics and wi-fi (or put on airplane mode to listen to an Audible book)Putting blue-light protectors on my iPad (I use my iPad at night to wind down)Taking melatonin and GABA supplement (when I need it)Shutting down all work-related emails/chats after 8pmImmune booster supplements – I’ve been taking 3-4 grams of vitamin C (buffered or liposomal), lysine powder (good anti-viral), bet...

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