In this chapter we learn that the accompanist is not faking his health. That he is actually diabetic, and his body is reacting the way it is because he hasn’t received his dose of insulin. This made me think about the medical access people in South America have, versus other nations, like the accompanist’s country of Sweden. I looked up how many people in Sweden have been diagnosed on average per year, the number is around 450,000 people. About 3,000 people die every year in Sweden to diabetes. About 145,000 individuals are estimated to be undiagnosed. In Latin America, close to 40 million individuals are reported to have diabetes. The actual number is far larger, as it is estimated only 50% are reported. This happens to be a major issue with diabetes treatment, the fact that many people don’t even know they have it until it’s too late. There is also the issue of the economic effect of having diabetes. The average medical expenditures were determined to be about 2.3 times the average citizen. This is a big problem for developing nations and poorer communities already struggling to make ends. The Swedish, even though having a high number of diabetics, happen to have the best healthcare system on the planet to deal with diabetes. This is because Sweden has devoted a lot of resources to tackle the ‘epidemic’, and have developed a world class registry system for it. It is “based on 28 defined indicators and areas, including prevention, case finding, range and reach of services, access to treatment and care, procedures and outcomes”. Latin America does not have adequate access to the National Diabetic Registry nor are they all that connected to the greater scientific community focusing on researching better treatments/cures. In fact only 7 of 28 EU nations actively use the NDR. Area’s where financial problems hit lost their ‘enthusiasm’ towards diabetic research, so it isn’t unusual that a developing country wouldn’t pay much attention to it either.
I switched gears a bit and wondered what could be causing this epidemic, which happens to be a problem that rose sharply in the last two decades. I came across a lot of research about the effect of development in poorer nations on its citizen’s health. It seems as though the road to technological prosperity isn’t without its dangers, especially when a nation shifts within a generation. Since Latin America has been slowly catching up with the rest of the world, it has adopted its diets, and some of our modern inconveniences being a result of said diets. Sweden also happens to have an Obesity problem, however, they are actually combatting it quite well. Most likely due to its modernity and access to resources. Latin America happens to be the most obese of the developing nations. Peru, most likely location of the hostage crisis, happens to have the highest density of fast food chains per square mile than any other nation on earth. Chile, one of the greatest exporters of fruit, doesn’t even eat much of it. Over half of their diets consists of processed goods, contributing to the epidemic. The reasoning behind this is the fact that fast food corporation are actually taking advantage of the status symbol that is fast food. While here, fast food may be viewed as being quite terrible for someone to eat, people in Latin America view it as a status symbol, that it is ‘cool’, and that they are eating like people in developed countries do.
I then researched new studies and research leading to better treatment of this epidemic. While there is no cure, there have been some breakthroughs in recent years. The FDA have recently administered a drug called Farxiga, which works by preventing the kidney from reabsorbing glucose. This increases the excretion of glucose and reduces blood sugar levels, effectively causing the patient to urinate excess sugars. There has been ongoing research on oral administration of insulin called polyalkylcyanoacrylate nanocapsules. I’m also sure people have seen the new commercials for testing blood-glucose levels that don’t require your fingers being pricked. Whether or not this is available to Latin Americans is unknown.
I’ve come across several political changes to help combat this issue too. Enrique Jacoby of the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), which is a subdivision on WHO, has stated that several Latin American countries have agreed to put regulations on their citizens diets. They want to improve the health in schools, by providing more access to clean drinking water and to limit the sale of unhealthy products. They are also having kids go outside and exercise more, which is an issue in itself in cities prone to crime and corruption. These nations are Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru and Uruguay. However, lobbying from mega corporations have hindered a lot of their work, as laws passed on junk food advertising in Brazil and Peru were negated on constitutional grounds.