E-Mental Health in Chile
As mobile technologies and the internet spreads throughout the developing world, health care has become a new field for emerging technologies to treat patients from a distance. While the number of online programs and mobile apps has increased exponentially in the past decade, the science to verify their effectiveness has lagged. For this reason, Swiss researchers with Frontiers, a peer-reviewed health journal, studied a series of Chilean intervention technologies to test their effectiveness in treating and monitoring different mental health symptoms in adults and adolescents. The results show that while case studies are lacking in scope and resources to date, initial findings are that e-mental health in Chile is addressing inequalities in mental health access and affordability.

Mental Health Problems in the Developing World

A common misconception of the developing world since the 1990s was that depression and anxiety were conditions unique to the developed world. The Millenium Goals of the United Nations (U.N.) in 2015 made no mention of mental health as a global issue. The U.N. Millenium Development Goals for 2030 now include low-cost mental health as a pillar of development. The belief that poor countries were relatively immune to mental disorders due to their communal living and family-centered life has often inflated this misconception. Experts believed that these strong ties safeguarded poor communities in developing countries from developing mental health disorders. Health professionals, including doctors, psychiatrists and the World Health Organization (WHO) held this belief for most of the 20th century.

However, WHO reported a stark lack of access to mental health services in Afghanistan, Rwanda, Chad, Eritrea and Liberia in a 2005 report. Each country at the time had only one or two psychiatrists nation-wide. Poorer countries spend almost no money on treating mental health in comparison to general medicine. Many still consider access to mental health a luxury in these countries, exposing the socioeconomic inequalities. Prior to this, the World Bank (WB) in 1993 had found that mental disorders were the greatest cause of disability worldwide, including both in developed and developing countries.

According to Tina Rosenberg of The Guardian, the data from the WB in 1993 did not fully capture the influence that depression has on general health in poor countries. The data neglected to take into account how depression and other mental health issues can interact with other illnesses such as its effect on the immune system, remembering to take HIV and other essential medicines or maltreatment of newborns from a depressed parent, for example. Although the debate over mental health has changed since the turn of the century, poor countries still spend very little money on mental health programs or access to treatment.

Affordable Solutions

Psychiatrist Vikram Patel, a Pershing Square professor of global health at Harvard Medical school, stated that the majority of people with mental health disorders require very little counseling to guide them in what he describes as “hope interventions.” In his research in Zimbabwe, he found that there are inexpensive solutions to providing mental health help to those experiencing depression or anxiety. An example he points to is a program that elder community members in Zimbabwe runs. This program sets up benches outside of clinics to engage the public in talking through issues with lay mental health workers. He concluded from his research that mental health coverage in poor countries depends on implementing solutions that were affordable and scalable.

Technology is becoming one of these affordable solutions to address the lack of mental health care. Recent data from WHO shows that 85 percent of developing countries are not getting the mental health treatment they need. The spread of mobile phones in developing countries is a novel solution to bringing a therapist to low-income and rural areas to help bridge the accessibility gap. WHO is now promoting the use of electronic health technologies in its Mental Health Action Plan 2013-2020. Technology also offers a confidentiality element that gets around the mental health stigma in some places so patients can seek help in privacy if desired. Smartphones can also be proactive in monitoring their owners, offering routine check-ins, noticing a drop in sociability, reacting to phone usage and vital signs. Above all, e-mental health has the potential to cut costs as there is no need to travel to see a trained professional.

E-Mental Health in Chile

Although technology seems to be a viable and affordable solution to the gap in mental health services in the developing world, it has so far outpaced the science to back up the claim that it is an effective solution. In an effort to catch up with the science, Swiss Researchers with Frontiers Public Health conducted several mini studies on the effectiveness of different mental health intervention technologies in both adults and adolescents in Chile which the Millennium Science Initiative of the Ministry of Economy funded in its Dec. 2019 publication.

Researchers also wanted to know how to address the inequalities in treatment that are observable between socioeconomic groups. They found that only 38.5 percent of people diagnosed with a mental health disorder received treatment in Chile. This comes in spite of 25 years of progressive policies by the government to support the expansion of health services in the country. Those who received treatment tended to come from wealthier and urban communities, such as the capital city.

Nevertheless, the researchers concluded that internet-based digital technologies that individuals used as interventions could reduce the gap in access to mental health care in Chile. For example, the researchers evaluated remote collaborative depression care programs that can monitor patients who live in rural areas with little support. The results show that the program received a higher user satisfaction ratio at six months of care when compared to traditional care. The program utilized internet and telecommunication training for interventions, while making it clear to participants that a trained profession was available in an emergency situation.

Another case study the Swiss researchers examined was from the University of Chile Faculty of Medicine that conducted a feasibility and acceptability study for depression management among adolescent females with mild to moderate depressive symptoms. The psychotherapeutic tool used was an online adventure video game to score and recognize negative cognitive bias, interpersonal skills, healthy lifestyle skills and behavioral health. Most patients, as well as their therapists, rated the game favorably, indicating that they believed their mental health benefited from playing it. In a similar project, called The Mascayano, mental health providers created a suicide prevention program through an online intervention for adolescents. The format for the technology was both an online platform and a mobile application with a virtual community. The intention was for the program to be informative and interactive for participants as well as identify those most at risk.

Another program, called Ascenso, aimed to monitor patients post-discharge from treatment. It used an online assessment to monitor symptoms on a biweekly basis and provided automatic feedback. Most patients accepted the program favorably and said that the program was easy to use, educating them on depression, teaching them self-monitoring skills and being a generally beneficial source of support.

The Implications of E-Mental Health in Chile

The heterogeneous studies that researchers conducted regarding e-mental health in Chile show that digital technologies have the potential to bridge the gap in coverage for low-income and rural areas through a patchwork of different programs that aim to improve mental health for those experiencing depression and other mental health disorders. Those who participated in the different programs reported a good level of acceptability on par with traditional care, if not better in some instances. This is particularly hopeful for those who live in remote locations of Chile and have limited access to health care but experience mental health issues at higher levels than their wealthier counterparts due to economic inequality or location.

Furthermore, the conclusion of the mini studies suggests that the spread of internet-based technology and mobile devices to a younger, tech-savvy generation has proven to be a feasible method of reaching people living in low-resource areas. The authors of the study project that digital technologies such as these have a larger implication for the developing world as well. They represent an affordable delivery system to reach poor communities with mental health treatment, follow-up, education, monitoring and interventions that may inspire policymakers and stakeholders from other developing countries to invest in their own mental health infrastructure to resemble the early successes of e-mental health in Chile.

Caleb Cummings
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts about Sanitation in Chile
Running along the thin stretch of land between the Andes and South America’s Pacific coast, Chile has grown to be one of the region’s most prosperous countries. Challenges remain ahead, however, as a drying climate and expanding urban build-up threatens the nation’s ability to supply clean water for its growing population. Here are 10 facts about sanitation in Chile.

10 Facts About Sanitation in Chile

  1. Chile just experienced its driest decade in history. Ecologists have labeled the past 10 years as a mega-drought, which has seen rainfall deficits as high as 70 percent in the Metropolitan region, leading the Chilean government to implement agricultural emergency zones in over one-third of the nation’s provinces. Furthermore, as temperatures rise and annual rates of precipitation continue to drop, many expect Chile to experience the greatest water stress of any in the western hemisphere over the next 40 years, placing much of the country’s population at risk of water insecurity.
  2. Everyone has access to basic sanitation. In 2016, Chile became the first Latin American country to achieve 100 percent basic sanitation coverage for its population, a major feat. Compounding this good news is that, as of 2017, roughly 77 percent of the Chilean population now has access to safely managed sanitation, a coverage rate that even surpasses that of Norway (76.32 percent). This comes only 40 years after the establishment of SENDOS, Chile’s first national sanitation and water company. Its involvement in the Chilean utility landscape got the ball rolling on increased public investments in sanitation coverage from 1977 to 1988.
  3. Chile’s water code grants free water rights to private corporations. Chile’s Water Code, which Gen. Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship enacted in 1981, empowers governmental authorities to grant permanent water titles to private owners, free of charge. As a consequence, private corporations own and operate 27 of Chile’s 28 water utilities, limiting the ability of the central government to regulate the management and distribution of the nation’s water supply.
  4. Santiago is growing, but so are its water needs. The Santiago Metropolitan Region, located in drought-prone central Chile, is currently home to 7 million people, a number that experts only expect to grow in the coming decades, placing further strain on the region’s diminishing water resources. In an effort to combat water scarcity in Chile’s capital, organizations such as the National Resources Defense Council have identified several priorities in managing the growing water deficit, including tackling inefficient agricultural practices and developing green infrastructure to meet Santiago’s needs.
  5. Glaciers provide Chile with much of its water, but they are in danger of disappearing. Chile currently possesses one of the largest freshwater reserves in the world, due in large part to runoff from glaciers located high up in the southern Andes mountain range. That supply is dwindling, however, as rates of precipitation decline and extensive mining of the copper deposits beneath many glacial areas continues. Researchers estimate that if Chile does not take steps to preserve the nation’s glaciers, by the end of the century, half of the total ice volume will have melted, depriving Chile of its major source of freshwater.
  6. Legal hurdles are compromising water access in central Chile. Experts expect water flows from the Maípo River Basin, which provides central Chile with 80 percent of its potable water and 90 percent of the water used for agriculture, to shrink by 40 percent over the next 50 years, spurred on by glacial retreat and an over-allocation of the river basin’s aquifers. Part of the issue lies in the Chilean Water Code’s division of the river basin into three distinct administrative sections, none of which are legally required to cooperate when it comes to handling water rights, leading many to seek legal reform as a potential remedy.
  7. In the north, water access is often a source of conflict. The Atacama Desert, a desert so dry that researchers use it to model conditions on other planets, covers Chile’s four northernmost provinces and hosts around 1.5 million people. As most of the groundwater available is fossil water, non-renewable water left over from the Atacama’s prehistoric past, there is concern that over-extraction of the region’s water supply will lead to its permanent depletion. This could lead to conflicts between the region’s mining companies and its indigenous inhabitants, who already must contend with the lowest household water usage rates in the country.
  8. Chilean companies are investing in “smart water” technology. As of 2017, 98.64 percent of the Chilean population possesses access to clean, household water, one of the highest coverage rates in Latin America. Despite these successes, over 30 percent of Chile’s potable water is still what experts consider “non-revenue water” or water that never manages to reach the consumer, thanks to a combination of theft, technical errors and leaks from broken and corroded pipes. To help combat this issue, many of Chile’s private water utilities have begun investing in “smart water” technology, which will allow companies to more efficiently monitor for potential leaks and breakdowns in the piping systems.
  9. Natural disasters are impeding access to water. The past two decades in Chile have seen a marked rise in the frequency and intensity of natural disasters, such as in the case of 2017, when surging floods in the capital Santiago left millions of Chileans suddenly without access to clean drinking water. Many attribute Chile’s heightened susceptibility to floods in particular to the rapid expansion of urban development and the loss of green spaces within the country, which has resulted in increased surface water run-off in populated areas, leaving water nowhere to go during storms.
  10. Sanitation-related illnesses have declined sharply. Thanks to the country’s efforts in increasing sanitation coverage, only .2 percent of the mortality rate is now attributable to unsafe water and sanitation in Chile, the same percentage as that of the U.S. This also has helped to lower the overall child mortality rate to 7.2 per 1,000 live births, well under the Latin American average.

Although the country faces many unique hurdles to overcome in the days ahead, these 10 facts about sanitation in Chile demonstrate a nation that is consistently striving to meet the needs of its people, blazing a trail for other Latin American nations to follow in the process.

James Roark
Photo: Wikipedia

Innovation Capabilities
Innovation is essential for countries to develop, but there are countless barriers to innovation capabilities. Innovation capabilities are the parts of a production process that people cannot buy but are critical to supporting and driving innovation. Companies must learn and develop these elements. These elements include basic organizational skills, human resource management, planning routines and logistical abilities.

The Importance of Innovation

Without innovation, companies cannot evolve and be sustainable. This, in turn, impacts the progress of whole countries. A lack of innovation leads to people being unable to leverage their resources.

According to the World Bank, many developing countries suffer from low innovation. Low innovation includes the following:

  1. Weaker managerial and technological capabilities and the lack of ability to cultivate them.
  2. Weaker government capabilities.
  3. A general lack of physical, human and knowledge capital.
As a result, developing countries often have a difficult time progressing through innovation. In 1900, many now developed countries were in a similar state to developing countries today. These developed countries were able to capitalize on their innovation capabilities and successfully manage new technologies. This is what developing countries must now do to progress.

Innovative Examples

There are several examples of how developed countries have capitalized on innovation, compared to those still developing:

  1. Brazil was able to upgrade technologically after a slump in its iron industry.
  2. Japan took its textile technologies and modified them for the needs of different locales. It also diversified into machinery, chemicals, cables, metals and banking. This enabled Japan to establish its first leading manufacturing industry.
  3. The United States leveraged its copper resources. It pushed the frontiers of metallurgy and chemistry through a combination of high-level human capital and a network of universities and laboratories.

Developing countries, however, have had trouble reaching the same goals. While Norway was able to leverage its oil and gas deposits with its high-tech sector, Nigeria was not. Spain and Chile were unable to successfully identify and adopt new advances in mining and metallurgy for their copper industries. This eventually leads to these country’s selling out to foreign interests who could.

Production Capabilities: Management and Government

Two subsets of capabilities directly impact innovation including production and technology. Production includes management and government, while technology includes incentives and the environment.

Management focuses on the organization and maintenance of a company. Developing countries tend to have weaker managerial capabilities than developed countries. In these developing countries, managers tend to not have as much education. This greatly impacts their capabilities to properly identify and understand high-return on potential projects, take responsibility for long-term planning and implement new talent.

Limited competition can prop up inefficient companies. A lack of government support, however, makes it difficult for more efficient companies to effectively incentivize their workforce and upgrade their technologies.

A country’s productivity can illustrate an example of the effects of different management practices. There is a 25 percent difference in productivity between developing countries and those in the United States.

Governments organize and support how effectively companies run. In developing countries, governments generally do not have enough human resources or they are unable to efficiently organize policies. The organization, design and implementation of these policies help to rectify market or systemic failures and promote innovation.

These capabilities are the rationale and designing of a policy, efficacy of implementation, comprehensibility for the National Innovation System (NIS) and consistency. Most developing countries, however, are unable to meet these requirements.

Technology and Innovation: Organization and Environment

Governments and management often work to organize companies. It is the organization of the company itself, however, that allows it to implement and expand new technologies. Companies must incentivize workers so they can receive the tasks that make them the most productive. This also empowers workers to brainstorm new ideas and improvements for products or systems.

This type of organization creates an innovation-friendly environment for the company. These incentives show positive influences on creativity and innovation in workers and the company as a whole.

An example of innovation at work is the Aquafresh company in Ghana. It dealt with fierce competition from Asia, eventually discovering that the best way to confront this competition was not to address it at all. Aquafresh started as a clothing company but later reinvented itself, turning to soft drinks. This was possible due to its innovation-friendly environment and organization. This environment eased the transition and sustained them through the change.

Solutions for the Barriers to Innovation Capabilities

Adopting better managerial and organizational practices can push companies to innovate in products, processes and quality. This can also inspire companies to create innovative projects, which can lead to new products and technologies.

Access to human, knowledge and technological capabilities increases a developing country’s innovation potential. This renders foreign aid less important as the countries learn to become self-sustainable.

Companies in developing countries need help with overcoming the barriers to innovation capabilities. If the National Innovation System could focus on supporting companies with better capabilities, investing in higher-level human capital and management and the development of capable governments, a larger innovation system could come into fruition for developing countries. This, in turn, would benefit the entire world.

– Nyssa Jordan
Photo: Flickr

Selena Gomez and UNICEFAfter starting her career at age seven starring in “Barney and Friends,” Selena Gomez rose to fame in her most well-known role as Alex Russo on Disney Channel’s “Wizards of Waverly Place.” Whether she is starring in shows on television or speaking out about the dangers of social media, Gomez often finds herself in front of the camera.  More recently, Selena Gomez and UNICEF have been working together to aid children in need.

In 2009, Gomez added UNICEF ambassador to her already decorated resume. She previously acted as a spokesperson for the organization for a year. At the age of 16, Gomez became the youngest UNICEF brand ambassador at that time. Together, Selena Gomez and UNICEF advocate for the world’s most vulnerable children by participating in campaigns, events and initiatives. “Every day, 25,000 children die from preventable causes. I stand with UNICEF in the belief that we can change that number from 25,000 to zero,” said Gomez.

Gomez in Ghana and Chile

In October 2009, one month after partnering with UNICEF, Gomez took a week-long trip to Ghana on behalf of the organization. This was an opportunity for the new ambassador to get a firsthand look at what the organization is all about. “My trip to Ghana was life-changing. I couldn’t believe the things I saw. They were so loving, compassionate and strong. Watching these kids fight for what they want was so inspirational,” said Gomez.

In 2016, when compared to adults, children were 40 percent more likely to live in poverty in Ghana. This number has increased significantly from the 1990s when it was only 15 percent. Over the past few years, Ghana’s economy has shown steady, positive growth and transformation, but clearly more needs to be addressed in regards to childhood poverty.

In February 2011, Gomez performed at a sold-out concert in the coastal city of Valparaiso in Chile. While there, Gomez met with some of the poorest Chilean women. Eighteen percent of children live in poverty in Chile; therefore, some children must work. Street children pose a large issue, especially indigenous children because they do not retain the same rights as other Chilean children.

Selena Gomez Turns to Fans for Support

In 2010, Gomez became the Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF spokesperson. The Kids Helping Kids Ⓡ event raised nearly $177 million as of 2018. In August 2011, Gomez joined more than 70 musicians for the George Harrison Fund as part of UNICEF’s Month of Giving.

Gomez took to social media to share a personally recorded message with her fans encouraging them to support the effort. In total, the efforts raised $1.2 million for children in the Horn of Africa affected by famine and droughts. Gomez closed out 2011 by participating in 12 Days of UNICEF, an annual tradition in which individuals are able to purchase a life-saving gift in remembrance of a loved one for children in need.

Gomez has performed three charity concerts for UNICEF with all proceeds benefiting the U.S. fund for UNICEF. Her concerts have raised more than $200,000 for UNICEF. She teamed up with Rihanna, Robin Williams, Taylor Swift, Dwight Howard and Adrian Grenier to participate in UNICEF’s Tap Project Celebrity Tap campaign by bottling tap from her home and taking part in PSA’s on behalf of UNICEF’s clean water programs.

Gomez in the Sahel Region and Nepal

In April 2012, Gomez traveled to the Sahel region of West and Central Africa to advocate for the millions of children facing malnutrition. Furthermore, she took to the media and created a public service announcement encouraging donations for the Sahel. She also used her Twitter following to promote #SahelNOW to initiate conversation and prompt awareness. The United Nations recognized a 50 percent increase in hungry children in the Sahel region as more than 1.3 million children faced acute malnutrition in 2018.

While in Nepal in 2014, Gomez visited with children at the Satbariya Rapti Secondary School, female health volunteers in Gangaparaspur Village, female mediators in the Hapur village and watched a skit about sanitation in Gangaparaspur Village. Nearly half of the Nepalese population lives below the poverty line with children fighting for their lives each as their fundamental needs go unfulfilled.

“Nothing is more important than helping children in need around the globe. I’m thankful that I can use my voice to bring awareness and much-needed funds to UNICEF, so they can continue their critical work. Together, with my fans, we can save lives,” said Gomez. Thanks to Selena Gomez’s work, conditions are slowing improving for children around the world.

– Gwen Schemm
Photo: Flickr

Life Expectancy in Chile
Located on the southwest edge of South America, Chile‘s international poverty rate is 1.3 percent. This number is fairly low compared to other nations, but Chilean poverty is on the rise as the nation’s international poverty rate increased from 0.9 percent in 2015. Today, 234,083 Chilean people remain impoverished and currently survive on less than $1.90 a day. Despite this descent in economic prosperity, poverty has not negatively affected the country’s life expectancy as it is has risen from 73.6 in 1990 to 79.1 in 2018. Here are 10 facts about life expectancy in Chile.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Chile

  1. Female Life Expectancy: While the overall average life expectancy in Chile evens out at 79.1 years, according to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), women tend to live longer. Women have an average lifespan of 82.2 years while most men live to the age of 76. Despite this gap in longevity, Chilean citizens generally live long lives as the country ranks 51st among 222 other global nations.
  2. Living Conditions: Overcrowding has long been an issue in Chile. Not only does it reflect the economic fragility of the region but it also harms the physical and mental health of citizens subjected to it. When the Chilean government implemented the Social Housing Recovery of 2014, the health of the country’s citizens increased and their life expectancy increased as a result. Today, the average Chilean home houses 1.2 people per room, which is better than the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) average of 1.8. Thanks to the Social Housing Recovery initiative, Chileans not only experience a higher standard of living, but they also received their right to better health and longer lives.
  3. Obesity: Obesity is one of Chile’s leading health issues. According to the CIA, nearly one-third of all Chilean adults suffer from obesity. Chile’s obesity rates ranked number 32 globally with 34.4 percent of adults and 44.5 percent of children suffering from the condition. Because of obesity, a large number of the nation’s citizens have an increased risk of other diseases including cardiovascular diseases, cancer and diabetes, some of the nation’s leading causes of death.
  4. Public Health Interventions: The Bono Auge Programme of 2010 created a universal health care program for Chile’s people. By providing a private health care voucher when public sector care is unavailable, more Chilean citizens are able to receive health care. Following its implementation, the program reduced the patient waiting list by 113,556 in 2010 to 50,780 the following year. The program also prioritizes those with high mortality pathological conditions and sets a two-day time limit on their waiting period for care. Patients who do not see a health care provider in this time frame receive a voucher so that another provider will see them. Equal health care increases the life expectancy of the Chilean people, as faster care and treatment not only saves lives but also extends them.
  5. Cancer: According to the OECD, Chile’s cancer mortality rate is high in comparison with its level of occurrence. Of the 35 percent of cases diagnosed, 23.8 percent end in death. This number makes up 24 percent of Chile’s national mortality rate and shortens the expected life span of its people. While the country has ways to treat the disease, much of this treatment is unequal and not enough. While it has created good screening procedures for cervical and breast cancers, it lacks large quantities of the equipment necessary to perform the job. Consequently, it is unable to reach a large number of people, and many people’s cancers go undetected. Unequal and limited proper testing hold Chile’s life expectancy back, as many of the country’s people die of cancers they are not aware they even have.
  6. Child Mortality: Ranked 163 in comparison with other countries, Chile’s infant mortality rate is fairly low. With an average of 6.4 deaths per 1,000 births and an under-5 mortality rate of 7.4 out of 1,000 during 2017, the country’s numbers prove themselves unalarming. Also, Chile’s infant mortality rate is on the decline, as the country’s under-5 mortality has dropped from 33.10 in 1980 to 7.4 in 2017.
  7. Air Pollution: Chile’s high concentration of air pollutant particles has a negative effect on the nation’s life expectancy. With 16.03 micrograms per cubic meter polluting Chilean air, the country fails to meet the 10 microgram standard that the World Health Organization set. The issue with polluted air is that it increases the risk for other diseases, such as lung cancer, which can eventually lead to death. Also, many expect that polluted air will be the leading cause of environmental premature death by 2050, meaning that without intervention, the country’s air quality will not only shorten the lives of people in the present, but it will also hurt the citizens of Chile’s future.
  8. Access to Health Care: While Chile has made strides towards equalizing its health care, care inequality is still a large issue. Socioeconomic status is the main determinant of the amount and quality of health care Chilean citizens receive. Chile’s indigenous citizens are statistically more impoverished, as they have a 35.6 percent poverty rate in comparison to their non-indigenous counterparts whose poverty rate rests at 22.7 percent. With a lower economic status, indigenous individuals have a higher risk of death, especially within their first year of life. In Mapuche, Chile, the children indigenous to Araucania have a 250 percent higher risk of death in their first year than those non-indigenous to the region. Without proper and equal access to health care, Chile’s impoverished people have a lower life expectancy merely because of economic status.
  9. Tobacco Consumption: According to the Pan American Health Organization, 20.2 percent of Chilean adolescents aged 19 to 25 participate in tobacco use. This number rises to 49.1 percent when assessing those citizens aged 26 to 34. This popularity in tobacco use not only increases the country’s risk of death from lung-related diseases, but it accounts for a large chunk of its lung cancer diagnoses. Chile is doing work to combat the issue, as it has implemented many anti-smoking policies, such as prohibiting smoking in public. As a result of these legislations, the prevalence of the nation’s total tobacco use has decreased from 42.6 percent in 2006 to 34.7 percent in 2014.
  10. Maternal Mortality: As of 2014, parasites and infections are the largest contributors to maternal deaths in Chile, as they make up to 25 percent of the total causes. While the maternal mortality rate has decreased, as deaths per 100,000 live births have dropped from 39.9 in 1990 to 22.2 in 2015. Improving Chilean poverty and prioritizing Chilean health care would improve the maternal death rate even more, as parasitic and infectious diseases are more prevalent among poverty-stricken regions.

These 10 facts about life expectancy in Chile show that by working towards ending Chilean poverty, the country’s total life expectancy will rise as a result. With poverty increasing the risk of many factors that contribute to Chilean mortality, such as decreased access to health care, reduced health literacy, higher risk of disease and higher prevalence of destructive behavior, a fight against poverty is a fight for all Chilean life.

– Candace Fernandez
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Chile
Located on the western edge of South America, Chile is a densely populated country and home to as many as 18.05 million people. Unlike many other countries in Latin America, Chile has a relatively stable government, economy and society as a whole. In the text below, the top 10 facts about living conditions in Chile are presented.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Chile

  1. Being one of the most stable governments in the region, Chile is the Representative Democratic Republic in which the president is elected by a majority vote with a 40 percent voter turnout as of 2017. Michelle Bachelet has been the president since 2014. According to the OECD, 60 percent of Chileans feel like they have a say in what the government does. For comparison, only 33 percent of Venezuelans feel like they have a say in their government’s actions.
  2. Chile has the lowest level of corruption in Latin America and the country has a score of 67 out of 100 on the International Corruption Index, the highest score out of all other countries in Latin America  For comparison, Venezuela has a score of 18, lowest in the continent.
  3. Chile has an extremely stable economy. The GDP per capita stands at $24,000. The country earns $56.32 billion in exports and $56.86 billion in imports. China, the U.S. and Japan are Chile’s top three trading partners. The living cost for residents of Chile is very low, with an average of $939 of monthly living expenses.
  4. The Chilean government provides all citizens with access to free public health care through the Fondo Nacional de Salud (FONASA). However, hospitals tend to be overcrowded and urban areas such as the capital Santiago have better equipment than rural areas and smaller towns.
  5. Most Chileans have internet and telephone access. An estimated 73.9 percent of the population uses smartphones as of 2016, according to eMarketer. The Chilean government has recently implemented a tech visa allowing entrepreneurs to acquire a visa in just 15 days.
  6. The unemployment rate in Chile has dropped dramatically from 13.50 percent in 1986 to 6.7 percent in December 2018. The employment rate is at 55 percent and the average hourly wage is $7.27, which is also very high compared to Chile’s neighboring countries.
  7. Chilean women still struggle to attain equal rights. Although Chile has made progress in terms of electing a woman to the highest office in the country, women still earn about 25 percent less than men. In addition, Chilean women are encouraged to work caretaking jobs whereas men work industrial jobs such as engineering, electricity and construction. Ever since Michelle Bachelet has been in office, she has been working to advance women’s rights in Chile.
  8. According to UNICEF, 93.4 percent of males and 93.3 percent of females are enrolled in primary school, and overall, 98.9 percent of the youth in Chile are literate. A very high number or 86.4 percent of Chilean adolescents are enrolled in secondary school, though the graduation rate is decreasing, which could be due to economic factors such as needing to support their family at an earlier age.
  9. Over the last decade, climate change has damaged the quality of water in the country. Glaciers have acted as the main source of water supply to rivers, lakes and groundwater in dry regions, and warmer weather has caused glaciers to retreat. There has also been a decrease in ecosystems in Chile which has a negative effect on the quality and availability of drinking water.
  10. Since Chile is located on a tectonic plate boundary where there is a subduction zone, compressional deformation causes earthquakes and volcanoes. Frequent earthquakes wreck thousands of homes every year and damage the country’s infrastructure. In recent years, the Chilean government has been working to build earthquake-resistant buildings and have developed better modes of public communication to warn people of natural disasters.

These top 10 facts about living conditions in Chile show that compared to many other countries in Latin America, Chile is considered progressive in terms of technology, government, economics and living conditions. Countries such as Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador struggle in terms of overall living conditions due to corrupt governments and failing infrastructures. Chile is continuing to progress regardless of its hazardous geographical location and state of its surrounding countries.

– Sara Devoe
Photo: Flickr

For decades, the Chilean government has worked hard to promote sustainable agricultural practices. These practices began through joint programs with United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in the 1980s, when both the government and farmers realized that growing organic crops will yield both better food products and higher profits as well.

The government also worked with the Government of the United States in buying more efficient and organic fertilizers and pesticides. Modern programs promoted by the Chilean government through their agricultural bureau have helped to grow the agriculture sector by about 3 percent in 2017, which was twice the growth of the nation’s GDP. By 2020, the Chilean government aims to be in the world’s top 10 list of food producers. Sustainable wine production in Chile will help them get there.

Wine Production in Chile

The agriculture sector in Chile employs about 800,000 people or just over 4 percent of the population. Out of the total agro-forestry exports, wine makes 2.9 percent. The majority of the wine production in Chile comes from small and medium-sized farms that are spread up and down the country. In 2009, Chile was ranked 5th in the world in wine exportation and 7th in wine production. This ranking has stayed relatively stable for the past decade.

Chilean wine is world renown for its quality. Because of this fact, it has also brought in much foreign investment and tourism. Modern-day investors see a stable and ever-growing market to invest in, while tourists see a beautiful country made better by great wine.

Wines of Chile

The secret of the wine production in Chile is two-fold. One is certainly the Chilean climate that helps to reduce the need for harmful pesticides since it is difficult for certain bacteria and molds to grow. The second is the government support of the sustainability code of the Chilean wine. The code that promotes sustainable wine production in Chile is given to the wine producers by a voluntary organization called Wines of Chile, that now has over 100,000 members. The organization provides uniform quality standards that wineries must meet to receive their stamps of approval.

Wine Standard

The organization Wines of Chile helps wineries organize sustainable wine production in Chile by providing resources to help them earn the standard. A winery can receive three stamps that form a circle when combined. The first stamp is green for the vineyard. To earn this stamp a winery must prove that it is using sustainable methods to both grow and harvest its grapes. The second is orange that accounts for social dimension. A company must show social equality at all levels. The third is red for the process of the winemaking itself. The process includes all facilities and processes for getting the wine to market, such as bottling.

There are a few powerful benefits for receiving three stamps of approval. The first one is that it increases the marketability of the wine. Organic and sustainable labels make the wine more attractive, especially abroad. The second is that the resources available to the wineries allow them to grow and become stable. The third one is that it is great for the environment, that, in the end, allows for better harvests and longer use of the land.

In 2017, Chilean wine exports to China were worth over $250 million and to the United States, total exports were at $246 million. In 2016, Chilean exports totaled $1.8 billion. As sustainable wine production in Chile continues to grow and becomes even more successful, it will surely help Chile reach the much-desired place in the top 10 list of world’s food producers.

– Nick DeMarco


Mapuche Oppression
An indigenous group of south-central Chile and southwestern Argentina, the Mapuche live in the heart of oppression. Despite a long history of war on culture and tradition, the Mapuche have remained dedicated to irreplaceable ancestral lands, recently taking to protests for expression against Mapuche oppression.

Enduring unforgiving Spanish colonialism and Pinochet’s dehumanizing regime of the late 1990s, the indigenous group fell under harsh marginalization, their resistance ultimately criminalized. Moreover, with deep-seeded enmity rooted in the expropriation of ancestral lands by big forestry corporations, the Mapuche now stand tall to defend their rights with no sign of giving up.

The Mapuche Are Vocal

The array of indigenous groups that populate the state of Chile make up about 10 percent of the national population. Small, in comparison, but these groups preserve what remains of the once prominent inhabitation of tribes that traversed the length of the country.

The Mapuche, being the largest of the remaining indigenous groups, remain relevant. From historical anecdotes detailing their resistance to the reign of the Incas and the invading Spaniards to their modern day revolution for justice, the Mapuche are neither silent nor invisible, but rather stoic warriors.

Desperate to literally strike gold, riches drove the Spanish into Chile — yet the Spaniards were never able to fully defeat the Mapuche presence in this area. Enter: modern day. Vocal and politically involved, the Mapuche struggle against oppression has led to national and international visibility.

Their Land is Their Livelihood

From the rebellion against the Spanish to modern-day protesting, Mapuche oppression has remained consistent. Victimized by violence and poverty, indigenous independence has been compromised, especially through the campaign know as “Pacification of the Araucanía Region.” This program was designed to legally integrate much of the Mapuche land into Chilean territory.

Without land – a fundamental foundation for cohesion and tradition – self-sustainability becomes almost impossible. Without self-sustainability, a vital encompassment of Mapuche identity, they had no other choice but to migrate to the urban populace, an unfortunate move to foreign scenery and lifestyles. Consequently, employment obstacles prompted poverty and, subsequently, the forced construction of informal housing settlements.

Mapuche oppression only escalated during the reign of dictator Augosto Pincohet. Under the “Law of Community Division,” devised by Pinochet himself, any remains of communal Mapuche land was rendered privatized. Wholehearted resistance to such targeted and deliberate injustice led to the disappearance of many indigenous peoples by the government.

With restored democracy, efforts have been made to mend the relationship between indigenous groups and the Chilean government. The establishment of CONADI, or the National Corporation for Indigenous Development (Corporación Nacional de Desarrollo Indígena), and the reallocation of ancestral land for self-sustainability are steps in the right direction.

Mapuche Resistance: A Force To Be Reckoned With

Police occupation has heavily increased in Araucanía, a region dense with dwellers of Mapuche ancestry. The militarization of the region surfaces as a direct result of Mapuche defiance.

Recently, Mapuche resistance has taken to aggressive tactics. Determined to both reclaim ancestral lands and gain political sovereignty, the indigenous group has turned to direct action. The Coordinadora Arauco-Malleco (CAM), an anti-capitalist organization, is just but one part of the rebellion.

“The government practices and respects Catholicism but it discriminates against Mapuche spiritual beliefs,” an indigenous Mapuche stated. “The Mapuche have been impoverished spiritually, culturally and economically by Chile. I’m willing to sacrifice my life for my people.”

Mapuche Hope For Restoration Is Indestructible

Not looking for cushy legislation that holds no ground or legitimate benefit, the Mapuche simply request the return of autonomy to their populace and land. The citizens of Araucanía, the region with the worst poverty and unemployment rates in the country, have no intention of quieting down.

“When we recover lands we plant crops, breed animals and reconstruct our cultural world,” says Llaitul, a spokesperson for CAM. “We will build houses but our first priority is a spiritual center, the rewe.”

With tensions still thin, the center-left president Michelle Bachelet proposed a project to Congress: an Indigenous Peoples’ Ministry.

Furthermore, Bachelet proposed future dedication to infrastructure, including road construction, clean drinking water and programs to reallocate ancestral land back to the indigenous Mapuche.

“We’ve failed as a country,” Bachelet stated from La Moneda presidential palace in metropolitan Santiago. But, with Mapuche prowess, their dedication to full restoration is a force to be reckoned with.

– Mary Grace Miller
Photo: Flickr

Treat People With Kindness
Former One Direction band member Harry Styles, currently a solo singer, songwriter and actor, recently finished a nearly year-long tour for his debut album, “Harry Styles.” He toured across the globe, making nearly 90 stops including Paris, Bangkok, Buenos Aires and Mexico City. The tour took close to ten months to finish. At each of his concerts, Styles had a merchandise stand with products that bore his slogan “Treat People With Kindness.” All of the merchandise profits, as well as a portion of the ticket sales, went to various local charities from cities at his tour stops. His tour raised $1.2 million for 62 global charities. By supporting these global charities, Harry Styles sends a reminder to treat people with kindness. Here are several of the 62 global charities that Styles supported on his world tour:

The Munich Refugee Council: Munich, Germany

Styles’ concert in Munich supported the Munich Refugee Council, an organization that has been working for the rights of refugees in Munich and other cities. Their work includes sensitizing the public and politicians to the living situation of refugees and working with others for a more welcoming society. The council also operates a project called Infobus for Refugees, which provides native-language counseling on asylum procedures and prepares refugees for hearings before first admissions.

Help Refugees: London, England

Help Refugees is known as “one of the unsung heroes of the European refugee crisis.” By working with small but effective groups and organizations, Help Refugees responds where the need is greatest by providing food, clothing, shelter or funding. Some of the most needed items that the organization provides include socks, underwear, razors, blankets, kids shoes, rain ponchos and pants.  

The Melbourne City Mission: Melbourne, Australia

Styles also toured in multiple cities in Australia. One of the Australian charities he supported was the Melbourne City Mission, which offers many services to support those in need in Melbourne and Victoria. The mission is Victoria’s largest source of homelessness services for those under the age of 24.

The Hub: Hong Kong, China

The mission of Hong Kong’s The Hub is to “give children in our society who are experiencing difficult circumstances an equal opportunity to become valuable members of the community.” The Hub is a support center that provides educational support, extracurriculars, counseling and health services to those who are most in need. 

The Chile Fund Against Hunger and Poverty: Santiago, Chile

While touring in South America, Styles donated to a number of poverty charities, including The Chile Fund Against Hunger and Poverty in Santiago, Chile. This fund was established by the Government of Chile and the United Nations Development Program to combat hunger and poverty. 

Forgotten Harvest in Detroit, Michigan

Styles toured in nearly 20 cities in North America. While in Detroit, Styles supported Forgotten Harvest, an organization dedicated to relieving hunger in metro-Detroit while preventing food waste. In 2017, approximately 589,000 people faced food insecurity in metro-Detroit. Rather than have food wasted, Forgotten Harvest receives food donations from 800 businesses and 250 emergency food providers. In 2016, this added up to 45.8 million pounds of food donated to those in need instead of ending up in a landfill.

Harry Styles’ merchandise mantra “Treat People With Kindness” has many meanings behind it. Making an extra effort each day to treat others with kindness can make a world of difference, especially for marginalized and impoverished people who rarely experience it. 

After his final tour stop in Los Angeles last month, Harry Styles posted a photo on his Instagram with the caption, “Thank you for coming out to see us, it has been a pleasure playing for you all…Treat people with kindness. Goodbye for now. I love you all. H.”

– Ariane Komyati

Photo: Google