Uruguay’s mandatory breast cancer screening is challenged

The BMJ Opinion, 26 October 2017
Author: Ana Rosengurtt
“In 2006, it became mandatory for all women aged 40-59 in Uruquay to have a free mammography every two years, despite its National Cancer Registry showing a sustained decrease in breast cancer mortality since 1990. President Tabaré Vázquez, an oncologist by profession, instigated this. But, as previously reported in The BMJ: “It’s the only country in the world with this sort of mandatory screening. And there is absolutely no scientific basis for applying this to women between 40 and 50.”
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Venezuela’s infant mortality, maternal mortality and malaria cases soar

The Guardian, 10 May 2017
Source: Reuters
“Venezuela’s infant mortality rose 30% last year, maternal mortality shot up 65% and cases of malaria jumped 76%, according to government data, sharp increases reflecting how the country’s deep economic crisis has hammered at citizens’ health. The statistics also showed a jump in illnesses such as diphtheria and Zika. In the health sector, doctors have emigrated in droves, pharmacy shelves are empty, and patients have to settle for second-rate treatment or none at all. A leading pharmaceutical association has said roughly 85% of medicines are running short.”
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Argentina lawmakers approve cannabis oil for medicinal use

Reuters, 29 March 2017
Authors: Maximiliano Rizzi, Hugh Bronstein, Peter Cooney
“Argentina gave final legislative approval on Wednesday to a bill legalizing cannabis oil for medicinal use and permitting the federal government to grow marijuana for research and therapeutic purposes. Chile and Colombia have adopted similar laws and neighboring Uruguay has gone as far as to legalize smoking marijuana, seeking to wrest the business from criminals in the small South American nation.”
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MP and former GP challenges Uruguay’s compulsory breast screening programme

BMJ 2016;355:i6624
Author: Sophie Arie
“Uruguay’s government is being challenged to end its compulsory breast screening programme, after a court ruled that one woman with concerns about possible harms caused by mammography should be exempt. On 6 December Daniel Radio, a deputy in the opposition Independent party and a former GP, presented a bill to parliament for legislation to ensure that women are asked for their informed consent to undergo screening for breast cancer and are not penalised if they refuse to give it.”
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Measles No Longer Lives In The Americas – Though It Still Visits

Forbes, 28 September 2016
Author: Tara Haelle
“A measles milestone is giving public health officials throughout the world renewed hope that one of the most infectious diseases in the world can be conquered. North, Central and South America together comprise the first region in the world to eliminate the disease, according to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). Elimination means that a disease is no longer endemic, or circulating on its own, throughout a region. Any outbreaks would therefore result from imported cases of the disease from a different region of the world.”
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Zika Virus in Colombia Presents Complicated Choice About Abortion

NYT, 15 February 2016
Author: Nicholas Casey
“While legal abortions remain rare in Colombia, there are signs that the law is undergoing a major new test. Some medical officials say that microcephaly is grounds for abortion and that they will offer the procedure to pregnant women if the fetus shows signs of the condition.”
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When research goes off the rails

The Hindu, 6 February 2016
Author: R. Prasad
“The World Health Organisation (WHO) may have designated the Zika virus and its suspected complications in newborns as a public health emergency of international concern, but this has not concerned Brazil which has so far refused to share virus samples and data with WHO collaborating centres. This is not only frustrating and delaying the development of rapid and reliable diagnostic tests, vaccines and therapies, but also hampering science.”
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Surge of Zika Virus Has Brazilians Re-examining Strict Abortion Laws

NYT, 3 February 2016
Author: Simon Romero
“The surging medical reports of babies being born with unusually small heads during the Zika epidemic in Brazil are igniting a fierce debate over the country’s abortion laws, which make the procedure illegal under most circumstances. Prominent legal scholars in Brasília, the capital, are preparing a case to go before Brazil’s highest court, arguing that pregnant women should be permitted to have abortions when their fetuses are found to have abnormally small heads.”
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Paraguayan 11-year-old gives birth after pregnancy sparked abortion debate

The Guardian, 14 August 2015
Author: Laurence Blair
“An 11-year old girl who became pregnant after being raped by her stepfather and was denied an abortion by Paraguayan authorities has given birth, in the culmination of a case which put renewed focus on Latin America’s strict anti-abortion laws.”
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Brazilian social scientists call for ethics watchdog

Sci Dev Net, 15 June 2015
Author: Catarina Chagas
“Social scientists in Brazil demand the creation of a new ethics committee to oversee the treatment of people studied by researchers. The specialist watchdog would develop a code of ethics for social science involving human subjects, and would act as a go-to organisation for dealing with scientific misconduct, they suggest.”
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