Significant improvements in health in Costa Rica cited in report

In the 1900s a person living in North America would be considered old age at 48, while in Latin America and the Caribbean the average person would only make it to age 29. Today both of these life expectancies have been extended to 78 in North American and 74 in Latin America, according to the “Health in the Americas 2012” report.

This report was compiled by the Pan American Health Organization and World Health Organization from 2010 statistics. It also said 98 percent of Latin American children live past their first birthday, while 100 years ago only 75 percent turned 1 year old.

Yet with these successes, it is still evident that the state of health in these areas is not equal to the world and even varies between the countries in the region, the report said.

“The countries of the region in this part of the world have collectively been successful in being healthier and more prosperous in the last 110 years,” said Pan American Health Organization Director Mirta Roses Periago. However, she called for efforts to make the region more equitable and sustainable.

Costa Rica has made significant improvements in health: A Tico’s life expectancy of 79.2 years. The 2010 infant mortality rate was 9.5 per 1,000 live births and only 21 mothers died out of every 100,000 births, said Health in Americas.

The report also said that only 471 out of 84,443 dengue cases between 2006 and 2010 were serious, and malaria cases dropped from 2,903 to 114 in the same time span. From 2002 to 2010 there were 2,278 HIV and 1,805 AIDS cases reported. Here are some other findings:

There have been no cases of vaccine preventable disease.

These changes were linked to a higher literacy rate of 97 percent and a near 100 percent schooling rate.

However, persons who live in areas classified as slums are not receiving the same care and the percentage of those living in extreme poverty made a jump from 3.3 percent to 3.5 percent in 2008.

According to the 2008-2009 National Survey of Nutrition 23.8 percent of children from 1 to 4 years old were at risk for malnutrition and 5.6 percent were malnourished. Also, around 20 percent of young children and teenagers were overweight or obese, the report said.

This is just one of the many challenges of Costa Rica. The average income has dropped to $10,200 and one out of three workers earn minimum wage.

The leading cause of death is diseases of the circulatory system followed by cancer. Men face risks of cancer in the prostate, stomach, lungs, colon and liver while women face breast, stomach, colon and cervical cancer, leukemia and lung cancer.

Other types of deaths are traffic accidents and violence. Homicides have risen from 6.8 per 100,000 in 2006 to 9.33 in 2010, but suicides have decreased from 7.2 per 100,000 persons in 2006 to 5.8 per 100,000 persons in 2010.

Across Latin Americas and the Caribbean problems exist with maternal mortality, malnutrition, tuberculosis, malaria, and lack of access to safe water and sanitation. These usually affect population groups in situations of social exclusion.

Poverty is one of the determining factors of the state of health of the population. Inequalities exist between those who dwell in the city opposed to the country, or between persons who are native to those which are Spanish speaking.

Overall, around 250 million people in Latin America and the Caribbean have some non-communicable disease, such as cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. In 2007, 3.9 million people died due to these causes.

Of these, 37 percent were under the age of 70.

Mental disorders in Latin America and the Caribbean are responsible for about 22 percent of the recorded disabilities. Depression and the use of alcohol-related disorders are the first places.

Health in the Americas is designed to analyze the progress and challenges of the American countries in order to achieve an improvement in the health. The full report is at

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