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Archive for the ‘Latin America and the Caribbean’ Category

Religion in Latin America: Widespread Change in a Historically Catholic Region

November 18, 2014 Comments off

Religion in Latin America: Widespread Change in a Historically Catholic Region
Source: Pew Research Religion & Public Life Project

Latin America is home to more than 425 million Catholics – nearly 40% of the world’s total Catholic population – and the Roman Catholic Church now has a Latin American pope for the first time in its history. Yet identification with Catholicism has declined throughout the region, according to a major new Pew Research Center survey that examines religious affiliations, beliefs and practices in 18 countries and one U.S. territory (Puerto Rico) across Latin America and the Caribbean.

Historical data suggest that for most of the 20th century, from 1900 through the 1960s, at least 90% of Latin America’s population was Catholic (See History of Religious Change). Today, the Pew Research survey shows, 69% of adults across the region identify as Catholic. In nearly every country surveyed, the Catholic Church has experienced net losses from religious switching, as many Latin Americans have joined evangelical Protestant churches or rejected organized religion altogether. For example, roughly one-in-four Nicaraguans, one-in-five Brazilians and one-in-seven Venezuelans are former Catholics.

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How Much Will Health Coverage Cost? Future Health Spending Scenarios in Brazil, Chile, and Mexico

November 17, 2014 Comments off

How Much Will Health Coverage Cost? Future Health Spending Scenarios in Brazil, Chile, and Mexico
Source: Center for Global Development

As Latin American countries seek to expand the coverage and benefits provided by their health systems under a global drive for universal health coverage (UHC), decisions taken today – whether by government or individuals – will have an impact tomorrow on public spending requirements. To understand the implications of these decisions and define needed policy reforms, this paper calculates long-term projections for public spending on health in three countries, analyzing different scenarios related to population, risk factors, labor market participation, and technological growth. In addition, the paper simulates the effects of different policy options and their potential knock-on effects on health expenditure.

Without reforms aimed at expanding policies and programs to prevent disease and enhancing the efficiency of health systems, we find that health spending will likely grow considerably in the not-distant future. These projected increases in health spending may not be a critical situation if revenues and productivity of other areas of the economy maintain their historical trends. However, if revenues do not continue to grow, keeping the share of GDP spent on health constant despite growing demand will certainly affect the quality of and access to health services.

Long-term fiscal projections are an essential component of planning for sustainable expansions of health coverage in Latin America.

New Comparative Law Report — Approval of Medical Devices

November 14, 2014 Comments off

Approval of Medical Devices (PDF)
Source: Law Library of Congress

This report describes the approval process for medical devices in the European Union and fifteen countries, and also indicates whether or not an expedited approval procedure is available. Many of the countries reference EU law, including France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Switzerland. Israel more readily approves devices with a CE mark (indicating approval in the EU) or an indication that they are approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In many nations, particularly those influenced by the EU, part of the review process is conducted not by the government but by private, independent organizations called “notified bodies.” These organizations are designated by EU Member States.

In most of the countries in the survey, medical devices are categorized based on the risks associated with their use, and the approval process varies by category. For example, in the United Kingdom, manufacturers of low-risk devices may register with the government agency and simply declare that the devices meet the requirements to be approved. Devices classed as higher risk must undergo more detailed review, by a notified body.

On the question of an expedited approval process, Australia, Canada, China, Japan, Spain, and Switzerland permit some sort of rapid review in particular cases, often when a device is required for an individual patient and no substitute is available. Mexico has provided for more rapid approval of devices if they have already been approved in either Canada or the United States. No such procedure exists at present in Brazil, France, Israel, the Russian Federation, or the United Kingdom. The Russian Federation did have a rapid approval system in place prior to August 2014. Germany provides for temporary approval of devices in limited circumstances. South Africa is now considering draft legislation that would include expedited procedures in specified situations.

Economic and competiveness gains from the adoption of best practices in intermodal maritime and road transport in the Americas

November 5, 2014 Comments off

Economic and competiveness gains from the adoption of best practices in intermodal maritime and road transport in the Americas
Source: Oxford Economics

Broad-based preliminary estimates suggest implementation of TIR could boost exports in Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico by $1-$5 billion per annum, depending on the country, for a total of $9 billion per annum for all three countries. This report, produced by Oxford Economics, explores the maritime and road transport systems in international transport, focusing on trade facilitation and the potential for improvements in trade systems in Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico with implementation of the TIR system, as well as potential challenges.

Free registration required.

World Bank: End of Boom Doesn’t Have to Mean a Bust for the Poor in Latin America

November 5, 2014 Comments off

World Bank: End of Boom Doesn’t Have to Mean a Bust for the Poor in Latin America
Source: World Bank

During the recent commodity boom, Latin America and the Caribbean proved that growth could be pro-poor and help fuel tremendous social progress. Now as growth slows regionally and beyond, it is critical to consider what will shore up economic activity while ensuring the poor won’t stay behind.

In its latest semiannual report, Inequality in a Lower Growth Latin America, the World Bank´s Office of the Chief Economist for Latin America and the Caribbean forecasts an average 1.2 percent rate of growth for 2014 with a rebound to 2.2 percent in 2015. This deceleration comes with a difference.

“In terms of equity, the simple fact that Latin America today is not the Latin America of the 1980s or 1990s, is already a good news story,” said Augusto de la Torre, World Bank Chief Economist for Latin America and the Caribbean. “For the first time in recent history, the region is no longer following a boom-bust cycle of the type that used to set the economy back for many years, hurting the poor the most.”

CRS — U.S. Foreign Assistance to Latin America and the Caribbean: Recent Trends and FY2015 Appropriations (September 10, 2014)

October 21, 2014 Comments off

U.S. Foreign Assistance to Latin America and the Caribbean: Recent Trends and FY2015 Appropriations (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Geographic proximity has forged strong linkages between the United States and the nations of Latin America and the Caribbean, with critical U.S. interests encompassing economic, political, and security concerns. U.S. policy makers have emphasized different strategic interests in the region at different times, from combating Soviet influence during the Cold War to advancing democracy and open markets since the 1990s. Current U.S. policy is designed to promote economic and social opportunity, ensure citizen security, strengthen effective democratic institutions, and secure a clean energy future. As part of broader efforts to advance these priorities, the United States provides Latin American and Caribbean nations with substantial amounts of foreign assistance.

CRS — Unaccompanied Alien Children: Demographics in Brief (September 24, 2014)

October 1, 2014 Comments off

Unaccompanied Alien Children: Demographics in Brief (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

The number of children coming to the United States who are not accompanied by parents or legal guardians and who lack proper immigration documents has raised complex and competing sets of humanitarian concerns and immigration control issues. This report focuses on the demographics of unaccompanied alien children while they are in removal proceedings. Overwhelmingly, the children are coming from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. The median age of unaccompanied children has decreased from 17 years in FY2011 to 16 years during the first seven months of FY2014. A greater share of males than females are represented among this population. However, females have steadily increased in total numbers and as a percentage of the flow since FY2011. The median age of females has dropped from 17 years in FY2011—the year that was the median age across all groups of children—to 15 years in the first seven months of FY2014.

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