Political roots of the struggle for health justice in Latin America

The Lancet, 385(9974), p1174–1175, 28 March 2015
Authors: Anne-Emanuelle Birn, Laura Nervi
“In 1952 Chile passed one of the world’s most comprehensive health-care laws, comparable in scope, unification, and name to the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) launched 4 years earlier. Yet just 21 years later, this landmark achievement was brusquely upended. What explains this abrupt change? Health-care policy developments in Latin America—in their equitable and less equitable guises—are often portrayed as following a step-wise march towards universalism, echoing W W Rostow’s now maligned theory of the stages of economic development. But a contextualised reading of the vicissitudes of health justice struggles in a range of Latin American countries suggests a contrasting picture. Moments of gains, punctuated by periods of repression and stagnation, reveal a far more complex history of class struggle on the part of agrarian and industrial workers, indigenous peoples, women militants, and other social movements—allied with corresponding political parties—against powerful political and economic elites.”
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Brazil passes femicide law to tackle rise in gender killings

Reuters, 10 March 2015
Author: Anastasia Moloney
“Brazil, where a woman is killed every two hours, is imposing tougher punishments on those who murder women and girls, as part of a government bid to stem a rise in gender killings.President Dilma Rousseff said the new law gave a legal definition to the crime of femicide – the killing of a woman by a man because of her gender – and set out jail sentences of 12 to 30 years for convicted offenders.”
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Teen rape victim inflames abortion debate

The New Zealand Herald, 25 November 2014
Author: AFP
“Raped by a member of her family and pregnant with a fetus that doctors said wouldn’t survive, the 13-year-old Chilean girl had no choice but to carry the baby to term. Since her baby died of congenital heart defects on November 5, hours after birth, the unnamed girl’s case has fueled outrage in Chile – one of just seven countries where abortion is illegal under any circumstance.”
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