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10 facts about corruption in brazil
As the largest nation in South America with a population of over 200 million, Brazil’s importance on the global stage is clear; however, corruption charges and convictions have riddled the country’s reputation. In 2014, one of the worst economic recessions in Brazil’s history hit it and left it in a state of political and economic instability along with ongoing corruption investigations. It is just beginning to recover. These 10 facts about corruption in Brazil serve to better understand one of the world’s most influential, and most corrupt, global players.

10 Facts About Corruption in Brazil

  1. Major corruption scandals have entangled Brazil’s last three presidents: Former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva received a conviction in July 2017 on charges of receiving over $1 million in kickbacks which he put towards renovating his beachfront apartment, with additional charges of money laundering. Brazil impeached his successor, Dilma Rousseff, in 2016, for mismanaging the federal budget in order to hide the extent of the country’s deficit. Brazil arrested her successor, Michel Temer, in March 2019 (only three months after leaving office) on charges of funneling an estimated $470 million into a criminal organization he spearheaded.
  2. Many recent corruption charges have emerged from Lavo Jato, also known as Operation Car Wash: Conceived in 2014, this operation’s original focus was on exposing a car wash money laundering scheme. Results from the investigation indicted hundreds of government officials and business elites spanning 12 countries in one of the largest corruption scandals in Latin American history. By October 2018, Lavo Jato had resulted in over 200 arrests made on the basis of corruption, abuse of the international financial system, drug trafficking and money laundering. The arrest of former president Michel Temer is a direct result of Operation Car Wash.
  3. The working class felt the consequences of Operation Car Wash: Almost half of state-owned oil-giant Petrobras’s employees received lay off after Operation Car Wash exposed the extent of bribes taken by Petrobras in exchange for giving government contracts to Odebrecht, a construction company. The more than 100,000 laid-off employees, not directly involved in the corruption efforts, had to find new work during one of the largest economic downturns in Brazil’s history as a result of Petrobras’s corrupt actions. Executives from both companies face prison time (a U.S. court has even fined Odebrecht $2.6 billion for it to pay to U.S., Brazilian, and Swiss authorities).
  4. Brazil’s domestic corruption affects many countries: Operation Weak Flesh, an investigation launched by Brazilian officials announced in March 2017, has exposed Brazilian companies JBS and BFR, the world’s largest beef and poultry exporters, to public scrutiny, bringing Brazilian corruption further into the global spotlight. JBS and BFR bribed quality inspectors to approve the exportation of spoiled meat which they exported around the world, including to the U.S. The U.S. has since banned JBS and BFR products. Authorities have arrested the Batista brothers, heads of JBS, for insider trading and lying to authorities. They also charged JBS $3.16 billion in fines for bribes totaling $600 million spread across nearly 2,000 officials.
  5. Economists indicate that political instability caused by corruption contributed to Brazil’s recession: Consumer confidence drops in conjunction with political crises, resulting in GDP losses. For example, the value of Brazil’s currency dropped eight percent after a recording implicating Michel Temer in a bribery scheme released in May 2017. The election of current president Bolsonaro has been described as one of the most politically polarizing and violent elections in Brazil’s history. Bolsonaro himself was a victim of such political violence; he suffered a stabbing during a campaign rally in September 2018. Continued political instability and violence will breed further economic havoc, according to economic experts.
  6. Corruption places Brazil’s indigenous community at risk, as well: Current president Jair Bolsonaro’s agenda involves the loosening of current deforestation regulations that may result in denial of indigenous peoples’ land claims. Experts agree Bolsonaro’s election was in response to public frustration with government corruption. Threats of illegal deforestation to indigenous reserves have increased since Bolsonaro’s election, causing indigenous groups and NGOs to mobilize around the issue. Bolsonaro has plans to drastically cut funding for Brazil’s two agencies responsible for defending the Amazon from intruders; in response, a group of indigenous people has created the Forest Guardians, an unsanctioned patrol group set on defending indigenous lands from criminal intruders Bolsonaro’s campaign promise to limit regulations on deforestation and public land mining may embolden.
  7. The “Brazil Cost” was a common term to describe the price of bribery in Brazilian business: While Operation Car Wash has exposed many high-ranking political and business elite, the systemic extent of Brazil’s corruption crisis goes far beyond the elite; the “Brazil Cost” applies almost universally across businesses. Some companies even had the “Brazil Cost”, an estimate on the amount of money they would need to spend on bribes, built into their business models and compliance systems.
  8. There is hope, though: The results of the Poverty Action Lab’s study outline successful methods for corruption reduction: prior audits of Brazilian municipalities reduce future corruption, local reporting on corruption reduces corrupt activities in surrounding areas and corruption can be limited by increasing the perceived legal costs. While Brazil has yet to implement them on a large scale, these findings could help curb the corruption problem plaguing Brazil from the municipal level to the country’s highest-ranking officials.
  9. Brazil has already implemented real anti-corruption measures in an attempt to halt further corruption: Transparency International implemented a package consisting of 70 anti-corruption measures for the 2018 election. Alongside these measures, the Clean Tab policy, originally created by Brazilian officials in 2010 (but increasingly relied on since Operation Car Wash’s findings) have categorized politicians according to whether or not they have been involved in corruption scandals. Brazil denied entry to hundreds of candidates in the 2018 election due to prior instances of corruption (although many of these candidates appealed the decision and ran despite their “Dirty Tab” status).
  10. Anti-corruption laws are making headway: An anti-corruption law passed in August 2013 now holds people who give out bribes equally responsible to those public officials on the receiving end. Although Brazil proposed the law in 2010 and passed it in 2013, the country did not enforce it until a wave of anti-corruption protests in 2015, evidence of the difficulties in changing an aspect of a political culture that is so institutionalized. Prior to the passage of this law, Brazil did not recognize a corporate liability for bribery. The law also punishes corporations rather than individuals, meaning firing one employee does not rid the company of responsibility. As a result, corporations are spending more on compliance than ever before. From 2014 to the end of 2017, 183 cases occurred against corporations under this law, resulting in millions of dollars worth of fines. Experts are calling this new age of transparency and regulation the age of compliance.

Above are 10 facts about corruption in Brazil, but the problem and potential solutions are much more vast. While these 10 facts about corruption in Brazil paint a picture of the extent of the problem, one cannot overstate corruption’s tangible impact on the lives of everyday Brazilians. With each new election comes renewed fears of corrupt activities; nevertheless, innovative preventative and corrective initiatives are flowing freely, and a corruption-free future for Brazil is more likely than ever.

– Erin Jenkins
Photo: Flickr

Martial Arts in Brazil
Brazil’s strength lies in its globalization: soccer and its telenovelas, for instance, are instantly recognizable to the international gaze as part of the country’s cultural brand. The same can be said for martial arts. The practice of martial arts in Brazil has existed since the 16th century, but the nation didn’t globally influence the field until the 20th century. Today, martial arts is a tangible and widely known element to Brazil’s landscape that is steadily being used to empower the upcoming generation.

Martial Arts

Martial arts is not just a combat sport; it is a codified system that permits the individual to learn more about oneself internally and externally. Many, if not all, forms of martial arts strive to improve the body, mind and spirit in equal precedence. Its cultural eminence and exploration of one’s limits make martial arts an excellent teaching enhancement for children in Brazil.

This is doubly true for those born in favelas – Brazilian slums where youth options are often limited to criminality, drug trafficking and sex trade. Families are increasingly enrolling their children in martial arts classes to keep them off the violent and poverty-ridden streets. The safe and controlled practicum of martial arts provides a fresh approach to life; children that would have otherwise continued to churn the cycle of poverty are able to build trust, strength and companionship while training with others.

Fight for Peace

Located in Complexo da Maré, a dangerous complex of favelas in Rio de Janeiro’s North Zone, is the organization Fight for Peace. The organization’s mission is upheld by their Five Pillars methodology. The First Pillar is to teach boxing and martial arts to local youth in order to boost self-esteem, discipline and respectful camaraderie. The other Four Pillars are education, employability, support services and youth leadership. These include opportunities such as vocational courses, home visits, education for those with learning difficulties and individual mentoring.

Children are encouraged to maintain an education and thereby continue their martial arts training until at least the age of schooling. By employing a multi-disciplinary approach that starts with martial arts in Brazil, Fight for Peace emboldens young individuals in disadvantaged communities to realize and pursue their potential.

Jose Aldo Fight School

Another valuable resource in Maré is the Jose Aldo Fight School, founded by UFC Featherweight Champion, Jose Aldo. As someone who came from an impoverished background with limited opportunities, Aldo has turned his success into a platform that paves the way for others.

So far, Aldo’s school has trained 534 students between the ages of 6 and 22 in judo, jiu-jitsu and boxing. The school aims to provide a strong and supportive community where children won’t feel that their only option out of hardship is to resort to crime.

Empowering the Youth

“Here, we replace a gun for a kimono,” says Marcelo Negrão, a jiu-jitsu teacher at Jose Aldo Fight School. Martial arts in Brazil have enabled its impoverished youth to harness the formative power of sport and use that confidence to create new paths for themselves.

Going forward, this medium of empowerment will hopefully continue to gain traction within the nation and as a global practice.

– Yumi Wilson
Photo: Huffington Post

Poverty in Brazil Can't Continue
Brazil is a tropical sought getaway for anyone looking for adventure, fun, and possibly romance. Tourists from all over the world travel to Brazil in order to explore new places and find something new within themselves. For the people of Brazil, however, living in poverty in Brazil can’t continue.

Income inequality

After collecting data, researches have shown that Brazil is a vastly unequal country where inequality affects all corners and areas. Here’s a common example: in terms of ethnicity, or skin color, the people with the lowest rates of income, 78.5 percent, are black or mixed race, while only 20.8 percent are white.

A report by Oxfam International states that in Brazil, the six largest billionaire’s wealth and equity are exactly equal to 100 million poorest Brazilians.

If the labor market were to continue this path as it has for the last twenty years, women and men won’t be earning the same wage until the year 2047, with 2086 being the year where the income of blacks and whites stands equal.

In March 2017 alone, 17 million children under the age of 14, equal to 40.2 percent of the Brazilian population of this age group, live in low-income houses.

In 2017 the number of people living in extreme poverty in Brazil went up by 11.2%, rising from 13.45 million in 2016  to 14.83 million, based on data released by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE). Definition of extreme poverty used in a research was set by the World Bank and is defined as an income per capita below $1.90 a day.

According to IBGE, in 2017, the wealthiest 1% of Brazil’s population earned 36.1 times more than the bottom half of the population, averaging a monthly income of nearly $8,000. The poorest 5% of Brazilians received an average income of around $11 a month comparing to $14 the year before. Income of the wealthiest 1% only dropped 2.3% in the same period.

Even with achievements in poverty reduction beginning to make strides in the past ten years, inequality still sits at a high level. Universal coverage in primary education was one of the biggest accomplishments for Brazil, but Brazil is struggling to improve system outcomes.

Positive trends

A major silver lining is that reducing deforestation in the rainforest and other biomes have made a great deal of impact in terms of progression from ecological damage. Still, Brazil continues to face development challenges such as: finding ways to benefit agricultural growth, environmental protection, and sustainable development.

Brazil played a huge role in formulating climate framework and has ratified the Paris Agreement. In that sense, the country has demonstrated its leadership role in international negotiations on climate change where many other countries came up short. With these significant contributions to climate change within its borders, Brazil has voluntarily committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions between 36.1% and 38.9% by 2020. Chances are big that Brazil will most likely reach projected numbers sooner.

Poverty in Brazil can’t continue, especially having in mind country’s potential for tourism and the amount of beauty and natural resources it has to offer. There is a solution, and as with most things, it rests in the most obvious place: understanding the scope of the problem and seeing it for what it truly is. Knowing nothing is hopeless because even hopelessness can’t exist without hope existing in a first place. This is how poverty is combatted. This is what the people of Brazil deserve: to hope and truly live.

– Gustavo Lomas
Photo: Flickr

Chronic Violence in Rio's Favelas and the Apps Helping to Save LivesDespite the Brazilian government’s efforts to protect favela inhabitants from drug and gang-related violence, concerns over public safety and security in Rio de Janeiro are at an all-time high. The prevalence of gun violence amid the struggle to wrest control of favelas away from drug traffickers has resulted in a staggering number of bystanders to be hit, often fatally, by stray bullets in police shootouts. As the embattled Brazilian state struggles to find effective solutions, two humanitarian organizations have developed applications whose aim is to help keep citizens out of harm’s way.

Translated literally from Portuguese, “favela” means slum or shantytown, but the diverse nature of these urban communities often belies such narrow labels. Typically colorful and teeming with life, favelas are low-income, informal housing centers that have become ubiquitous in Brazil’s largest cities.

Brazil’s first favela, now called Providência, was built in the center of Rio de Janeiro in the late 19th century by soldiers who found themselves homeless following the civil conflict known as the Canudos War. Today, an estimated 1,000 favelas are home to about 1.5 million people in Rio, which means that about 24 percent of Rio’s population lives in these communities.

Though the term “favela” has a historically negative connotation, conditions in favelas vary widely today and have over the past decade. While some of these centers are typified by destitution and the lack of resources, not all favela inhabitants identify with the negative labels typically applied to their communities. In fact, a 2013 study found that 85 percent of favela residents like the place where they live, 80 percent are proud of where they live and 70 percent would continue to live in their communities even if their income doubled.

Since this study, however, Brazil has entered into its worst economic recession since the 1930s. In 2014, Brazil celebrated its removal from the U.N. Hunger Map and prosperity seemed to be on the horizon. Just three years later, however, 14 million people are currently unemployed, hunger is yet again a pressing issue, and the number of incidents of gun violence between the police and drug traffickers has significantly increased.

Urban violence related to drug trafficking, which was largely believed to be a problem of the past, has reemerged in Rio de Janeiro. In 2008, the state established 38 Pacifying Police Units (UPPs) across the city’s favelas in response the problem of drug and gang-related violence, which has historically been centered around favelas. This program, which represents the state’s largest public monetary investment in the favelas to date, is dedicated to protecting inhabitants from gang and drug-related violence in Rio and removing the physical manifestation of the drug trade.

Initially, studies demonstrated that the UPPs were affecting positive outcomes in the favela communities. Crime rates fell and the price of real estate was on the rise. In the last three years, however, Brazil’s economic crisis has caused an uptick in crime rates, and the UPPs are struggling to maintain control of favelas.

Public safety concerns and the perception that the UPPs are not up to the task at hand have been exacerbated by the recent rise in the number of killings by police officers. In Rio, 569 people died at the hands of on-duty officers from January to October 2015, which represents an increase of 18 percent over the same period in 2014.

Sadly, shootings and assaults have become routine in Rio. This year, at least 2,800 shootings have been recorded since January, which equates to an average of more than 15 per day.

Last month, the Brazilian Army was called in to dispel a shootout that had emerged between police and an armed drug gang in Rocinha, the largest favela in Rio. Just under 1,000 soldiers were dispatched to surround the favela and bring an end to the violence, which had forcibly closed schools, offices and other public buildings and added to the number of civilian fatalities.

Endeavoring to help protect citizens caught in the crossfire of the embattled police and military forces and drug gangs, two humanitarian organizations have developed applications that notify citizens of the location of gunfire in their locality. Amnesty International and a local researcher created “Fogo Cruzado,” or Cross Fire, and “Onde Tem Tiroteio” (Where Are the Firefights) was created by a volunteer group of Rio citizens. Operating in real time by collecting police and eyewitness reports, both applications are available for Android and iOS users.

As a home to millions, the reemergence of violence in Rio’s favelas despite past endeavors aimed at its eradication is extremely disheartening, and the resultant deaths have been mourned as tragedies. Though these applications are only temporary aids rather than the comprehensive solutions that the city desperately needs, they can help protect its residents and reduce the number of deaths caused by gun violence in Rio.

Savannah Bequeaith

Photo: Flickr

Help People in Brazil

Though Brazil boasts a strong economy, income disparity between the rich and poor is vast, and 3.7 percent of the total population lives in poverty. Much of the poverty in Brazil is concentrated in northern rural areas, where young people in particular feel the effects of poverty. In Northern Brazil, about 25 percent of all children under the age of five suffer from chronic malnutrition. This income disparity is partially due to unevenly distributed land, and high land prices make it difficult for small-scale farmers to compete in the market. In recent years, the government has undergone measures to correct this imbalance, including reducing taxation on farming, which has already begun to improve the welfare of rural poor.

Brazil has been very successful in alleviating much of its own poverty, in particular through a government program known as Bolsa Familia. Through Bolsa Familia, parents receive a monthly stipend in exchange for sending their children to school and to health checkups. Still, there is much to be done to ensure that the rural poor continue to thrive.

Here are just three ways to help people in Brazil:

  1. Sponsor a child. With young people in Brazil most harshly affected by income inequality, this may be one of the most effective ways to disrupt the cycle of poverty and help people in Brazil. For example, Child Fund International offers programs to sponsor individual children. This money goes toward supplying a child with food, clean water and education.
  2. Volunteer. There are many ways to volunteer time toward bettering conditions for people in Brazil. Project Favela, based out of Rio de Janeiro, is a volunteer-run organization which offers both schooling and after school care for poor children (and many adults as well) completely for free. Volunteers help teach English, science, math, reading, art, theatre and even coding.
  3. Encourage vocational training. CARE, a nonprofit organization based out of the UK, has had tremendous success addressing the structural causes of poverty in Brazil and encouraging rural schools to provide vocational training to its students. In addition, CARE has helped poor communities in Brazil develop sustainable business practices and has provided access to microfinance.

Though Brazil still struggles with inequality and poverty, it’s clear that, on its own, the country has made tremendous strides toward fixing its problems. With a bit of help, it can continue to bring down the poverty rate and build a better future for all its citizens.

Audrey Palzkill

Photo: Flickr

Violence in Latin America
Every year, the Citizen’s Council for Public Security in Mexico releases a ranking of the 50 most violent cities in the world. The list is based on homicides per urban residents and does not include conflict zones such as Mosul, Iraq. The recently released 2016 ranking demonstrates the range of violence in Latin America: of the top 50 cities, 42 are in Latin America.

The biggest Latin American country, Brazil, accounted for the highest number of cities on the list at a whopping 19. Mexico and Venezuela rounded out the top three, and the Venezuelan city of Caracas topped the list. It is also worth noting that a number of smaller Latin American countries, including Honduras, El Salvador, Colombia and Guatemala, all had cities on the list. The concentration of urban violence in these 43 Latin American cities is alarming.

The link between global poverty and violence emerges clearly from this ranking. Many of the causes of violence in Latin America can be directly linked to symptoms of poverty such as hunger, political instability and weak public institutions. Venezuela, the country with the chart-topping city of Caracas, demonstrates this connection clearly.

Caracas ranked as the most violent city in the world for the second year in a row. In addition, four of the top 10 most violent cities were Venezuelan. Venezuela currently finds itself in a crisis state from a mix of political instability, extreme hunger and economic desperation. Venezuela’s financial woes spring from the collapse of the oil industry, governmental corruption and economic mismanagement. The crisis has become so extreme that 75 percent of the population has lost an average of 19 pounds in five years. The desperation and frustration from this situation have inspired massive government protests, many of which have turned violent. This confluence of factors has contributed to Venezuela’s prominent position on the list of most violent cities.

Venezuela presents one of the most extreme examples of the connection between poverty and violence, but a number of other trends also characterize the Latin American cities that dominate the list. Drug trafficking throughout the region is a large contributor. Violence between rival cartels placed Acapulco, Mexico in the number two spot on the list.

Brazil, the country with the most cities on the list, faces many of the same challenges as Venezuela. Governmental corruption and poor public services have spurred massive demonstrations that have led to widespread violence.

A few small Central American countries also face their own unique challenges. Countries such as El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala have a disproportionately high number of cities on the list given their tiny sizes. Drug trafficking and weak public institutions are important causes in these countries. But impunity and histories of civil war and divisive social issues also play into the high violence rates in these small countries.

The range of violence in Latin America is large, but there are various factors that can be generalized across the region. Foreign aid from countries like the United States can help alleviate some of the common causes of violence. For instance, Venezuela’s economy has reached its last $10 billion. Providing food and economic support to the Venezuelan people could help stabilize the country and lead to more democratic and peaceful state than the violence currently ravaging the country. More than anything, people in Venezuela and the region at large need money and resources to stem the tide of violence across Latin America.

Bret Anne Serbin

Photo: Flickr

Using Fish Skin to Heal Burn VictimsIn Brazil, there are only three skin banks to serve a population of 208 million people. The health care system is so strained that the collagen and tissue stored at these skin banks can only meet one percent of the demand of burn victims in Brazil. Due to the high cost of skin grafts, most burn cases instead receive a sulfadiazine burn cream containing silver to prevent infection. The treated area is wrapped in burn gauze with no healing or restorative property to the tissue. When researchers at José Frota wanted to address this issue, they had a novel idea: using fish skin to heal burn victims.

The researchers began experimenting with Tilapia, which is one of Brazil’s cheapest and most abundant species of fish. The results were shocking, not only did the treatment cost 75 percent less than the cream and gauze method, but it also resulted in far less pain for patients. Some patients even reported being able to stop taking pain medications due to the fish skin treatment. This is in part because the Tilapia skin is richer in types 1 & 3 collagen than human tissue; these collagens are critical to healing burns in damaged tissue.

The collagen in Tilapia skin also stays moist longer than burn creams, resulting in fewer applications than with gauze. This lowers pain when administering the bandage as well as decreases medical costs while healing the wound. On many second-degree burns, the fish skin can remain on the skin throughout the entire scarring process. In Brazil, Tilapia skin was previously considered garbage, but doctors’ ability to use fish skin to heal burn victims has changed those opinions.

One reason for such an incredible discovery is that Brazilian medical researchers face different problems than their American counterparts. This leads to innovative solutions to problems of cost and access to health care that uniquely faces their society. Consequently, their ingenuity results in developing solutions that benefit the global medical community. In the same manner that World War II produced the advancement and mass production of penicillin, the inequitable and resource deficient health care system in Brazil produced this innovative approach.

Although not directly involved with this project, USAID is incredibly important to creating relationships with researchers, physicians and universities that facilitate these discoveries. Doctors have shown promising results from their early experimentation, but they need a private company to begin producing and selling the fish skin to hospitals for it to gain momentum in the medical community. USAID could invest in the project to produce these skins that would reduce its health care expenditures across the globe. Using fish skin to heal burn victims is just the beginning of low-cost high tech solutions with incalculable benefits that our foreign assistance and investment can produce.

Jared Gilbert

Photo: Flickr

Brazil's Poverty Rate
In a mere decade, Brazil’s extreme poverty rate has dropped dramatically. In fact, among the BRIC nations, Brazil has the second lowest percentage of its population living under the poverty line. Former president Lula’s unprecedented Bolsa Família Program (BF) is modestly responsible for this success.  In 2003, Brazil’s poverty rate stood at 9.7 percent; in 2013, that percentage was down to 4.3.

The concept of the Bolsa Família program is straightforward and trusting. The BF gives low-income families small cash transfers and in return, the families attend preventative health care visits and keep their children in school.  Bolsa Família has both short and long term goals. In the short term, BF has exceeded expectations.

Not only has BF help halve the poverty rate, but it has also improved income equality by 15 percent. Historically, Brazil has struggled with social and economic equality. As recent as the 1980s and 1990s, the nation’s poorest 60 percent of the population had only four percent of the total wealth.

The BF’s long term goals are grounded in sustainability, for it provides a more promising future for the youth generation. Through education and health, the BF works to give children opportunities to prosper later in life.  This work breaks the cycle of poverty that many in Brazil face.

The likelihood of a 15-year-old girl being in school has already increased by 21 percent, and infant mortality rates have significantly dropped. Long term monitoring is required to see the actual long term benefits of the program, but thus far the evidence is encouraging.

Aside from the economic advantages of the program, Bolsa Família has also restored integrity and hope to Brazil’s poor. Most of the beneficiaries of BF are women, and the female empowerment leads to a more educated, efficient and modern society.

The first of its kind of such a large scale, BF is an example for the rest of the world. By 2013, 120 different delegations had visited Brazil to find out more about the program, and similar cash transfer programs have already popped up in 40 countries.

BF may be a simple concept, but its innovation and success are far reaching. By providing 50 million people, or ¼ of the population, with small, monthly cash transfers, Bolsa Família has slashed Brazil’s poverty rate and given poor children better futures.

However, Bolsa Familia is only one part of the government’s four-pronged solution for fighting poverty in Brazil. Other strategies include setting the minimum wage, providing support for rural families, and creating a more formalized employment system.

Catherine Fredette

Photo: Flickr

Common Diseases in Brazil
An epidemic of yellow fever has recently emerged in rural areas of Brazil, with over 3,192 suspected cases reported, 758 cases confirmed and 426 deaths from the disease. The fatality rate for confirmed cases has risen to 35 percent as of May 18. Although it is not normally among the common diseases in Brazil, yellow fever poses a growing threat to Brazilian public health.

Yellow fever is an acute viral hemorrhagic disease that includes symptoms such as black vomit and bleeding from the naval cavities. The Aedes aegypti species of mosquito currently transmits the disease, mainly in rural areas of the country.

However, Brazil could face an even greater problem if the mosquito species that live in densely populated cities, such as Rio de Janeiro, contracts the disease and begins to spread it. Already Brazil has had to request 3.5 million doses of the yellow fever vaccine from the International Coordinating Group on Vaccine Provision. Only six million doses currently exist in the emergency stockpile for the vaccine; for perspective, Rio de Janeiro had an estimated 12 million residents in and around the city in 2016.

While country officials deal with the yellow fever endemic, there are several other diseases which continue to affect its citizens, especially those living in poverty. Other common diseases in Brazil include:

Ischemic Heart Disease
Ischemic heart disease ranks the highest among common diseases in Brazil. In 2015, it was the leading cause of death in Brazil at 18.8 percent, and it has frequently been the leading cause of death globally. Ischemic heart disease is especially prevalent among low- and middle-income countries, as living in poverty often correlates with some of the most common behavioral risk factors. These factors include an unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, tobacco use and harmful use of alcohol. Due to the success of Brazil’s universal public health system, however, the mortality rates for cardiovascular diseases decreased by 24 percent between 2000 and 2011.

Diabetes
Diabetes was the fifth leading cause of death in Brazil in 2015, which was a rise from its previous position at seventh in 2005. Approximately 12 million Brazilians suffered from diabetes in 2015. Diabetes is a chronic disease in which the body struggles to produce or respond to the insulin hormone. One way that the Brazilian Ministry of Health attempts to combat the increasing prevalence of diabetes is by offering free drugs to all people with diabetes and related conditions. They also support education and awareness activities.

Diarrheal Disease
Diarrheal disease is both preventable and treatable, and yet globally it is the second leading cause of premature death in children under five. In Brazil, it was the seventh leading cause of death in 2013. The greatest risk factors for deaths related to diarrheal disease are child and maternal malnutrition. As malnutrition generally plagues impoverished populations the most, the poor in Brazil are the most likely to suffer from the diarrheal disease. Fortunately, a rotavirus vaccination for infants has resulted in a decline in under-five-year-old diarrhea-related mortality and a decrease in hospital admissions in Brazil after the vaccine’s introduction in 2006.

With the threat of yellow fever and the constant presence of other common diseases in Brazil, the Brazilian government faces a great deal of work to improve and ensure the health of its citizens, especially those living in high-risk areas due to poverty. For now, the universal public health system strives to make current advances in preventing these common diseases accessible to all people.

Lauren McBride

Photo: Pixabay

Cost of Living in Brazil
The cost of living in any country is a direct result of inflation and the economy. As of June 2017, $1 USD is equivalent to 3.31 Brazilian real. The cost of living in Brazil does not seem to be high for everyday products such as fruit, bread and eggs when compared to prices in the United States. The costs tend to differ more when it comes to mortgage rates, and gasoline and other imports.

Brazilian cities were more expensive in 2011 than cities such as Los Angeles, New York City, Berlin, Miami, Abu Dhabi and Luxembourg. The inflation rate was 6.5 percent, while the rate in the U.S. was 3 percent. The real should have become cheaper, not more expensive. This caused the cost of living in Brazil to rise.

By 2016, the economic situation had not changed much. Brazil, which had been the fifth-largest world economy when it won the Olympics, dropped to the ninth-largest economy after a significant decline in its gross domestic project. It went into its worst recession since the 1930s.

High taxes, poor infrastructure and low labor productivity have contributed to what is known as “Custo Brasil” (“Brazil cost” in English)­­– which refers to the increased costs associated with doing business in Brazil. It is likely that these costs directly impact the cost of living in Brazil.

The 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro was expected to add to the economy while bringing Brazil out of the recession. With an influx of tourist’s spending money, the demand and supply for products should have increased.

More than 400,000 tourists came in for the Olympics and spent about 425 real per day; those 760,000 Brazilians who attended spent an average of 310 real per day. In total, the Olympics generated over $100 million USD in tourism revenue alone, based on the exchange rate as of August 2016.

Although the total amount of revenue generated remains unknown, companies spent more for the 2016 Rio Olympics than they did in Beijing in 2008 and in London in 2012. Between the revenue from tourism and sponsors, Brazil’s official inflation rate ended 2016 at its lowest level since 2013.

The central bank expects the cost of living to decelerate, with significant decreases having already occurred in the past few months. Brazil is expected to end 2017 with inflation below its target for the first time since 2009.

Stefanie Podosek

Photo: Flickr