Central America

Guatemala is the poorest country in Latin America with more than half of the population living on less than $1.25 US per day. Although the Latin American countries vary greatly in terms of their level of development and epidemiological profiles, yet they face a series of common public health challenges. The persistence of diseases such as dengue, tuberculosis, and malaria and the emergence of new diseases like HIV/AIDS, SARS, and avian flu as well as increasing cases of antimicrobial resistance emphasize the need for flexible and responsive public health systems. Furthermore, the changing epidemiological profile of the population, with an increase in morbidity from diabetes, heart failure, and cancer poses additional challenges to public health. Avoidable mortality, for example, still surpasses one million deaths annually. Deficiencies include the shortage of human resources, inadequate information systems and health technologies, weak institutional and organizational capacity, and insufficient financial resources (World Health Organisation/Pan American Health Organisation)