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Posts Tagged ‘health’

Brazil health authorities on standby for swine flu outbreak

April 27th, 2009

Brazilian Health Minister Jose Gomes Temporão, Agencia Brasil

Brazilian Health Minister Jose Gomes Temporão, Agencia Brasil

Brazilian Health Minister Jose Gomes Temporão says Brazil is prepared to fight a potential outbreak of swine flu, after the World Health Organization (WHO) raised the threat level to an imminent risk of a global pandemic.

So far, there is no evidence of the swine influenza virus in Brazil or that it has reached pigs, ruling out risk from contact and consumption of products of porcine origin in the country, the government says.

“It would be irresponsible to say that it will not come to Brazil. We are prepared to fight it if it gets here,” the minister said on Wednesday.

Officials say Brazil’s health service network is on alert and a contingency plan have been in place since 2005, after previous bird flu scares.

Enough medicine to treat 9 million patients has been put aside and there are 52 hospitals prepared to meet  suspected cases, the minister said.

As Brazil moves into autumn, meaning lower temperatures in some areas, doctors expect regular cases of influenza to increase, but they are taking no chances.

Two suspected cases in the cities of Belo Horizonte and Sao Paulo have been identified, with patients being treated as if they have the disease, despite this not being confirmed.

Among a population of close to 195 million people, there are currently 36 patients being monitored in the states of Amazonas, Bahia, Espírito Santo, Mato Grosso do Sul, Minas Gerais, Pará, Paraná, Rio de Janeiro, Rio Grande do Norte, Santa Catarina and São Paulo.

Worldwide, 148 cases have so far been confirmed in nine countries, with eight deaths - seven in Mexico and one in the United States, WHO says.

Pork market fears

Meantime, concerned about pork exports worth an estimated $1.5 billion, the Brazilian government is to send documents to main buyers certifying the quality of meat, Agriculture Minister Reinhold Stephanes also said on Wednesday.

 Photo: ttaammyy, flickr

Photo: ttaammyy, flickr

Stephanes insisted pork consumption is not linked to the transmission of swine flu, suggesting the name of the illness, should be changed to ‘Mexican flu’, after the country where it originated.

The minister said he plans to invite President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva for a roast pork lunch next week.
Experts from the government funded agricultural research corporation Embrapa are in the United States contributing to the development of a vaccine to combat swine flu, he added.

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Brazilian Bureacracy: Two sides of the same groin

April 23rd, 2009

A simple visit to a health clinic for an ultrasound scan provided an object lesson in the famed sluggishness and painstaking nature of Brazilian bureaucracy.

Photo: turtlephotography, flickr

Photo: turtlephotography, flickr

“Doctor will only scan the right side of the groin unless you provide us with a code for the left side as well,” the receptionist insisted to my medical insurance company on Thursday.

For patients used to the British National Health Service (NHS) and all its supposed failings, the Brazilian private sector, for those lucky enough to able to afford it, can be quite an opener too.

I sit there for nigh-on forty minutes, as the receptionist and the health insurance provider battle it out in call after call.

“The groin counts as one area, so you only need one code,” the health insurance operator told me on the phone, on one of the occasions,  I’m dragged into the row.

By the way, I’m there being tested for a suspected hernia.

All this to-ing and fro-ing with them in this verbal game of tennis and fretting about whether I’ll end up stumping up the cost myself is enough to leave my inner workings down below in a permanent twisted state.

Finally, we have a winner.

After yet another consultation with the doctor, the receptionist — who by now feels like my lawyer — gets her way — and the code– and I’m in and out of the ultrasound in a flash.

The scan was scheduled for 7:40am [NHS please note] and I’m back out into the world outside by 9:30 am, with once again Brazilian bureaucracy triumphant!

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