7 Facts About Healthcare in ParaguayIn recent years, Paraguay has improved its infant mortality rate, healthcare facility spending and health care resources. Yet, there is still much to do to improve healthcare in Paraguay. Here are seven ways the Paraguayan government is working to improve healthcare in Paraguay.

7 Facts about Healthcare in Paraguay

  1. Paraguay has far fewer healthcare workers than needed to provide adequate care for patients in rural areas. In fact, 70% of healthcare workers are allocated in the city of Asunción despite only 30% of the population living in that area.
  2. The World Bank approved a loan to Paraguay to help improve its healthcare structure. In May of 2019, the World Bank approved a $115 million loan to allow Paraguay to develop health treatments for mothers, newborn children and people who suffer from chronic health conditions. With the help of this loan, the quality of healthcare will increase in Paraguay in the coming years.
  3. The current life expectancy for people in Paraguay is 74.1 years. In 1990, the life expectancy in Paraguay was 68.5 years. Innovations in medicine, an increase in healthcare spending and resources have all contributed to the increase in the Paraguayan life expectancy. Although Paraguay has increased its life expectancy in the last 30 years, the country still has a long way to go to meet the life expectancy of more developed nations.
  4. The average amount spent on healthcare per capita in Paraguay is cause for great concern. In 2017, the average healthcare spending per capita for one year was $381. This number is a fraction of what developed nations spend on healthcare. As middle and lower-income Paraguans do not have the financial resources to pay for healthcare, they do not go to doctors or hospitals unless it is necessary. Lack of doctor visits and preventative care will cause further health issues and the onset of chronic health conditions for Paraguans in the future.
  5. Paraguay has very few hospital beds compared to the beds needed to care for the sick population. Paraguay has about one hospital bed per 1000 people, which is almost a third of the hospital beds the United States has. Having enough hospital beds is essential to caring for the vulnerable population, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Paraguay is in urgent need of more hospitals. Paraguay is building contingent hospitals to help care for more sick patients, but these hospitals will only help with the hospital bed shortage in the short term.
  6. Paraguay still has a relevantly high infant mortality rate. As of 2019, the infant mortality rate in Paraguay was 16.6 infant deaths per 1000 live births. This is almost three times the infant mortality rate of the United States. Most of the infants died of diseases such as pneumonia, the flu and diarrheal diseases.
  7. Paraguay does not have sufficient mental health resources. In Paraguay, there are only two mental health hospitals, no mental healthcare plan for adolescents and no stand-alone laws for mental health issues. Currently, 908,117 people in Paraguay suffer from mental health issues. To help the mentally ill population, Paraguay needs more resources to finance more mental health institutions. Paraguay also needs to create mental health plans and institute laws to help the mentally ill.

Overall, Paraguay has made many improvements over the years, including infant mortality rate, healthcare spending and resources. However, Paraguay is still far from being caught up with higher-income nations. With the help of foreign aid and instituting more health care policies, Paraguay may develop a stronger healthcare system. In the coming years, Paraguay will hopefully eradicate diseases prevalent in the country and establish a better system to help with the medical needs of the population.

Hannah Drzewiecki
Photo: Flickr

Hunger in ParaguayParaguay is one of the smallest countries in South America but is still home to more than seven million residents. Many Paraguayans residing in the landlocked region struggle to survive, with nearly 17% of the population living in poverty. The poverty rate is even higher among rural and indigenous communities. As a result, hunger in Paraguay continues to be a significant problem.

The Causes of Hunger: Exports and Inequality

A prominent yet paradoxical cause of hunger in Paraguay is its growing export rates. As the UN reports, “Only 6% of agricultural land is available for domestic food production, whilst 94% is used for export crops.” While the country produces considerable agricultural resources each year, exporters ship most of this produce and livestock overseas and leave very little in the country. This lack of domestic production means that many Paraguayans cannot afford expensive imports. As a result, many must contend with food insecurity and hunger in Paraguay.

To make matters worse, the divide between the wealthy and the working class in Paraguay is drastic. Roughly 3% of the population owns more than 85% of its land and resources. This unequal distribution of land and resources leaves small landowners impoverished and unable to compete, with many turning to urban areas in search of marginal work.

Agricultural Industry

The Paraguayan agricultural industry’s oligarchical nature makes it challenging to reallocate Paraguay’s land and natural resources. The 3% of landowners hold tremendous financial and political influence in the country, making it difficult for the Paraguayan government to reallocate resources or reappropriate land toward domestic production. The extremely wealthy are also only interested in producing a handful of different crops that do well in the global market.

However, this makes Paraguay’s economy and exporting gains very dependent on a temperamental world market. The market’s fluctuations can be particularly tricky and potentially harmful for the underserved and impoverished in the country, who are already struggling to survive. Without much opportunity for social mobility, those threatened by hunger in Paraguay must routinely find cheap alternatives to sustenance. High-quality, nutritious food remains an unaffordable commodity for many Paraguayans.

Hunger and Malnutrition

Poverty leads to food insecurity and malnutrition, two issues symptomatic of hunger in Paraguay. As nutritionist Nadia Quintana notes, “About 15% of Paraguayan children suffer from malnutrition. And that is if you do not count the children from indigenous groups. According to a United Nations estimate, if we include indigenous tribes, more than 45% of Paraguay children are at risk of hunger or malnutrition. But the problem is not lack of food. The problem here is poverty and lack of work and education. And housing is very precarious.”

While instances of undernutrition and starvation are trending downward, malnutrition and obesity rates are rising in Paraguay as poverty forces impoverished citizens to subsist on cheaper, less nutritious foods. These low-nutrient, high-calorie options may be cheap, but they have had an outsized impact on an average Paraguayan’s diet. Residents are in an impossible situation, forced to choose between going hungry or eating foods correlated with increased vulnerability to chronic diseases.

Global Pandemic and Rising Unemployment Rates

The COVID-19 global pandemic has further complicated hunger in Paraguay. While the small Latin American country was one of the first to begin quarantining measures to counteract the March 2020 outbreaks, the nationwide lockdown has crippled many of the country’s workers. Although the country has the fewest coronavirus cases in the region, many of its workers have lost their primary sources of income. The loss of employment means that nearly 60% of the population is without access to any benefits or financial support during the ongoing pandemic.

According to the Guardian, though the government has secured $1.6 billion in pandemic crisis loans, a tiny percentage of Paraguayans have received the promised $76 and food packs. As a result, the dependence on cheap, non-nutritious foods and correlated instances of malnutrition and obesity continue to rise. Rising unemployment rates and lack of federal support will inevitably exacerbate the ever-present issues poverty of hunger in Paraguay.

Indigenous Communities and Hunger in Paraguay

Among the most affected by poverty, pandemic and hunger in Paraguay are indigenous peoples with minimal economic and social resources to combat their current circumstances. Under the lockdown, many are unable to secure food and must rely on communal meals and donations to survive. The Paraguayan government has offered aid but has struggled to deliver it as it has to the rest of its people. Amnesty International has partnered with local initiatives to lobby for sufficient assistance to these indigenous communities waiting and hungry for action.

Moving forward, the Paraguayan government faces an uphill battle in providing its citizens with adequate resources to sustain healthy diets. The government finds itself in a difficult place as it struggles to assist and feed its people amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, especially as its workers are out of jobs. With so much of its economy tied to a small minority of extremely wealthy agricultural exports, Paraguay must find a way to help those who are not part of the top 3%, especially those living in indigenous, underserved and impoverished areas. Though extreme poverty trends downward, malnutrition and obesity will continue to characterize hunger in Paraguay.

Andrew Giang
Photo: Flickr

Global Infancia

Global Infancia is a nongovernmental organization (NGO) that specializes in protecting children from abuse in Paraguay. It was founded in 1995, “Global Infancia works towards creating a culture which respects the rights of children and adolescents in Paraguay.”

It has attempted to promote the human rights of children in a myriad of ways, ranging from creating a branch of the government tasked with protecting children to founding a news agency focusing on children’s rights. Global Infancia represents the blueprint for a successful NGO because of its ability to form partnerships with governments, influence local communities, and follow through with its goals.

Partnerships with Governments

Studies have estimated that roughly 60 percent of children in Paraguay have been victims of violence. Faced with this fact, Global Infancia worked with the National Secretariat for Childhood and Adolescence along with the Paraguayan Government to pass a law stating “all children and adolescents have the right to be treated properly and with respect for their physical, psychological and emotional well-being. This includes protections for their image, identity, autonomy, ideas, emotions, dignity and individual values”.

Additionally, Global Infancia spearheaded the forming of Municipal Councils for the Rights of Children and Adolescence who have become instrumental in protecting children’s rights throughout Paraguay. Global Infancia’s work is proof of how a successful NGO can form fruitful partnerships with local governments.

Integration into the Local Community

Since the end of authoritarian rule in Paraguay, it has been working to integrate itself into local communities and promote the recognition of children’s rights. In the town of Remansito, Global Infancia is providing supplementary nutrition and school support to over 1,000 children. Approximately 22 percent of Paraguayans live below the poverty line. The child labor force of participation with a rate of 25 percent, shows that the conditions for many children in Paraguay are not ideal.

However, Global Infancia recognized these problems and has created national media campaigns to raise awareness for children’s rights and used training forums around the country to educate the public that violence against children will no longer be tolerated. Finally, Global Infancia has harnessed the power of local communities by “installing an alert system which reduces the demand for childhood labor”. These actions illustrate how a successful NGO employs the power of the communities they are working in.

Accomplishing Goals

At its inception, it was primarily focused on fighting the trafficking of babies and children. Today it has evolved into a children’s rights organization with a bevy of goals. Whether it be their success at establishing legal rights for children in Paraguay or the founding of CODENIS bodies which protect children throughout the country today, Global Infancia has had a considerable impact on Paraguayan society. In a 2017 report by the United States Department of Labor, experts found significant advancement in Paraguay’s fight to end child labor.

However, the current situation still puts many children in danger, requiring more resources to fully end child labor. With the help of Global Infancia and the multitude of other successful NGO’s, there are no doubts that Paraguay will continue to see improvements to children’s rights.

Overall, Global Infancia is a perfect example of how a successful NGO operates. From its crucial government and community partnerships to their impressive track record of accomplishing its goals.

Myles McBride Roach

Photo: Flickr

Paraguay Successfully Eliminates Malaria
Paraguay has successfully eliminated malaria, making it the first country in the Americas to accomplish such a feat in nearly 50 years.

Victories Against Malaria

The country’s success has been attributed to its ability to detect malaria cases in a timely manner and discern whether or not the cases had been spread inter or intranationally. Between 1950 and 2011, Paraguay developed and implemented programs and policies meant to both control and eliminate the disease; the country registered its last case of P. Vivax Malaria, the most frequent cause of recurring malaria, in 2011.

After 2011, a five-year program focusing on case management, community engagement and public health education was launched in order to prevent transmission and prepare for official “elimination certification.”

Since the program’s completion in 2016, the Ministry of Health has launched a three-year initiative meant to further train Paraguay’s healthcare workers in regards to malaria. This prioritization will inevitably strengthen the country’s ability to promptly detect, diagnose and treat new malaria cases, as well as address the ongoing threat of “malaria importation.” The country has also prioritized controlling and minimizing mosquito populations within its borders.

New Directions and Prioritizations

The elimination of malaria provides economic leverage for Paraguay’s impoverished population. The significant financial burden of approximately $5 a day per malaria case, according to a study published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine, will no longer plague Paraguayan families. Such relief will help enable them to direct their money towards other essentials, such as food and education.

Poverty affects almost 40 percent of Paraguay’s rural population, as opposed to only 22 percent of its urban population. Peak malaria infection often coincides with harvesting season, severely impacting the amount of food rural families are able to produce.

Malaria cases are typically concentrated in said rural areas, where many lack the resources and public health education to adequately detect or treat the virus. The immediate situation of these rural communities is only impacted by instances of extreme flooding, which act as a breeding ground for mosquitos (potential carriers of the virus).

Points of Impact

Malaria primarily occurs in poor, tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world, most of which don’t have adequate access to primary care facilities – in many of the countries it’s present, malaria is the primary cause of death.

The virus is the result of a parasite carried by mosquitos. The most common symptoms of malaria include chills, fever and other flu-like symptoms. Left untreated, the disease can be fatal.

The groups most vulnerable to high levels of malaria transmission include young children and pregnant women. Malaria caused approximately 216 million clinical cases and over 440,000 deaths in 2016 alone.

Future Goals to Successfully Eliminate Malaria

The success of these programs provides a blueprint for other countries to successfully eliminate malaria themselves. Paraguay’s situation contrasts with those of other countries within the Americas, where the increase in malaria cases is greater than in any other region of the world. In fact, nine different countries reported malaria case increases of at least 20 percent between 2015 and 2016.

As a whole, however, Latin America witnessed over a 60 percent decrease in malaria cases between 2000 and 2015. As treatment and surveillance progress, many other countries will follow Paraguay in eliminating the virus. Argentina is expected to be certified later this year, and other malaria-free Latin American countries include Ecuador, El Salvador and Belize.

Katie Anastas
Photo: Flickr

women's empowerment in paraguayIn the year 2017, many countries still face a large difference in societal power between genders. One of these countries is Paraguay, which is located in central South America. Women’s empowerment in Paraguay is on the rise, specifically when it comes to women joining the workforce, enacting laws preventing violence against women and increasing access to sexual education.

Paraguayan President Horacio Cartes said in a speech to the U.N., “I make a firm commitment to strengthening the actions needed to speed up the advancement of real and effective equality between men and women in my country.” He supported the Public Policy Law for Rural Women, which aims to help women who live in remote areas gain employment despite scarce resources and few job opportunities. The policy will help provide women with agricultural training. Not only will this help feed families, but it will encourage women to become entrepreneurs. By the end of 2015, this policy had already reached 1,000 women.

Violence against women is an injustice that has been occurring for too many centuries. The president approved the Law for Comprehensive Protection for Women Against Any Kind of Violence in 2016. This law, as well as a commitment to coordinating efforts to fight violence against women and sex trafficking, will help foster women’s empowerment in Paraguay. The law will also help to better punish perpetrators and make sure they actually serve jail time or some other adequate punishment.

Teen pregnancy is a growing issue for women’s empowerment in Paraguay. Due to a lack of sex education, nearly one in 20 Paraguayan women have given birth by the age of 20. Becoming pregnant at a young age can complicate completing school and entering the job market. The Mbaracayú Education Center was opened in 2009 to provide the education that young women deserve. The education center is about more than sex ed: it also teaches job skills, including IT skills, textiles, tourism and environmental management. Movements like these show that there are many people dedicated to women’s empowerment in Paraguay.

– Scott Kesselring

Photo: Flickr

Education in ParaguayParaguay is a country located in South America, situated between the northern border of Argentina and the southern border of Brazil. Education in Paraguay is very structurally similar to that of the United States, in which children advance through primary and secondary school before moving on to advanced studies at a university or vocational training facility. Similar to the United States, the education system starts children in primary school at age six, and the children complete grades one through 12.

According to the World Factbook, 95 percent of males and 94 percent of females in Paraguay are defined as being literate. However, literacy is typically not achieved until the final years of primary education, which is normally completed at age 14.

Classbase has reported that education in Paraguay is unique due to the government’s historical political instability. In 2014, the government regained stability after a period of disorganization following the impeachment of President Fernando Lugo.

Following primary school, children have the choice to enter secondary school, as it is not required by law. However, a lot of families typically do not have the money to afford continuing education, and so the families often send their children across the border to Chile. It can be a large hassle for such families to send their children far away in order to attend school, especially if the families do not have the funds to allow their children to learn locally.

Tertiary schools, which are universities or vocational training facilities, exist in Paraguay, but, as mentioned, many children do not have the opportunity to advance greatly in the education system. A reformed education system would potentially greatly help the children Paraguay be able to learn a variety of useful skills, which will help them be able to attend university or vocational training.

Emily Santora

Photo: Flickr

How to Help People in ParaguayFor years, Paraguay has been one of the poorest countries in South America. The poverty rate in Paraguay is 40 percent. Its population is 6.7 million and many people in Paraguay have no regular income. Water, electricity and housing are very scarce in Paraguay. With all of these issues, people in other countries often wonder how to help people in Paraguay.

Paraguay is a predominantly young nation. Youths make up 35 percent of the population, and a large number are orphans. Because of the lack of parental care, many children resort to robbery or prostitution to stay alive. These children do not get a primary school education, and approximately 210,000 people in Paraguay are illiterate.

Children are forced to do hard labor and some are trafficked to larger cities like Asunción. The children are treated as sex slaves when they are trafficked. Street children are targets for human trafficking because they do not have any family support.

Many organizations are helping those in need. SOS Children’s Villages have been created in different locations to help Paraguayan children. The villages provide day care, education and vocational training. The Project for the People (PPP) was created to help people in Paraguay by providing health and dental care, education and human development. The organization helps implement self-development programs in communities. Project for the People has many opportunities to volunteer and donate to the cause.

Habitat for Humanity have been working since 1998 to help provide support to families with inadequate housing conditions. Out of every 100 families in Paraguay, 43 live in poor housing conditions. In 2016, Habitat for Humanity served 176 families that live in poor housing conditions. Habitat for Humanity has plenty of volunteering opportunities and donations are accepted. Events take place during the year to raise awareness and mobilize volunteers.

The answer to how to help people in Paraguay starts with you. Make a change by volunteering to raise awareness about the issues in Paraguay.

Treasure Shepard

Photo: Google

10 Facts About Paraguay Refugees
Refugees leave their countries in order to find safety, peace and other necessities not present in their homelands. In Paraguay, incoming refugees are guided through the process of adapting to the country’s practices, lifestyle and community. Here are 10 facts about refugees in Paraguay:

  1. In 2016, 49 refugees submitted asylum applications to Paraguay. Only 27 applications were approved, mostly for Syrians and Cubans. While this does not guarantee entry for all refugees, it shows that Paraguay is very welcoming to some.
  2. Some refugees use fake passports to enter Paraguay. The country’s criminal court convicted seven Syrian refugees of this crime in March 2015. One of the convicted refugees stated that Paraguay’s police “treated them with respect.” Paraguay’s criminal court granted the refugees freedom of movement at the first hearing.
  3. Many refugees seek lost family members. Some do not know if their parents are living outside of Paraguay or are even still alive. Two such refugees, Mahed Ibrahim and his younger brother, unnamed because he is a minor, fled to Paraguay in search of their parents.
  4. Paraguay’s government plans to build 4,000 homes for refugees of flood disasters. The refugees will also be given food supplies, housing materials and medical assistance. Paraguay’s government relief agency is also preparing for mosquito-borne diseases that may affect these refugees.
  5. Refugees in Paraguay are bound to a “resettlement policy.” This policy helps refugees become self-reliant and make positive contributions to their new country. The program provides refugees with housing, medical care and employment opportunities.
  6. When moving into their new homes, refugees in Paraguay are provided with basic amenities and have no rental expenses in their first year. After the first year, they can make arrangements to buy their homes by paying a specified quota for several years. Paraguay’s various programs and requirements determine the quota amount.
  7. Refugees in Paraguay can access free healthcare through the National Public Administration’s resources and services. In the first year, some medicines and expenses are not covered under the free plan. Once the first year passes, the restriction is lifted.
  8. Refugees in Paraguay have access to the same public education system as citizens. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) pays for refugee children’s education expenses. The payments annually cover uniforms and materials in preschool, primary and secondary schools.
  9. Refugees are guided and educated on aspects of Paraguay’s labor market, helping them find employment almost immediately. Paraguay’s government gives refugees vocational training in baking, plumbing, computers and other work skills. The training sessions are free and relieve refugees of added expenses.
  10. From their arrival date, refugees in Paraguay are given a monthly stipend for one year. If managed properly, the stipend can cover utility, food and other expenses. The stipend also has a single allocation for clothing expenses.

These 10 facts about refugees in Paraguay reveal the country’s goal to help others but also the necessity for reform. Paraguay still declines some refugees depending on their country of origin, and changes will be needed in order to grant equality for all refugees. For refugees presently in Paraguay, a better quality of life may very well be in their future.

Rhondjé Singh Tanwar

Photo: Flickr

As of March 2017, there have been vast improvements regarding the water quality in Paraguay. WaterAid named Paraguay a top-10 country in improving rural access to clean water. This came after the country implemented a multitude of successful policies and innovations. Government efforts, along with the volunteer work of citizens, helped Paraguay completely transform the way its people get water. It almost doubled the number of rural citizens with clean water access.

For its indigenous and rural populations, in particular, poor water quality in Paraguay used to be a large issue that affected the health and lives of its citizens. In 2000, over 50% of Paraguay’s population did not have access to clean water. Water could only be gathered through reservoirs that collected rainwater. These were extremely unreliable, unsanitary and likely to dry up during the hotter seasons. During times of drought, rural citizens often resorted to drinking from nearby rivers and other unsafe sources of water.

After addressing water quality as an issue of high importance, Paraguay achieved huge success to ameliorate this issue. Despite plentiful freshwater reserves, the country had difficulty providing all citizens with access to this resource. However, when access to clean water was named a priority Millennium Development Goal, the Paraguayan government began making ambitious changes. The original goal was for Latin American countries to halve the number of people that lacked access to safe drinking water. Paraguay vastly overachieved, and over 94% of its citizens now have access to clean water.

The majority of this progress began in 2007 when access to clean water was deemed a basic human right in the country. Law 3239, the Law on Water Resources, was a key piece of legislation in Paraguay, which states that “inhabitants [should] have access to drinking water…and every natural person has a right to access to a minimum quantity of drinking water per day that is sufficient for the satisfaction of their basic needs.”

Another important change was the re-arrangement of certain political institutions. For example, the National Service of Environmental Sanitation of Paraguay became part of the Department of Health. This made access to clean water an issue of public health services.

Additionally, citizen volunteer initiatives and community service agencies were imperative for this shift. Rural communities maintain water and sanitation boards. Families pay these boards a small fee, and in return, the boards set water tariffs to operate the water systems.

Julia Morrison

Photo: Flickr

Paraguay is a landlocked country in the heart of South America. Located between Bolivia, Brazil, and Argentina, the country has a population of nearly seven million people. Although poverty is on the decline, the country’s economic level is not where it should be. The current issues surrounding education in Paraguay go hand in hand with poverty.

In 2012, five percent of Paraguay’s GDP went towards educational needs. The structure of education in Paraguay is similar to those found in other countries around the world. Primary school begins at the age of six and consists of six grades. After primary school, children proceed into secondary school. The secondary school has two parts; lower secondary, which is seventh through ninth grade, and upper secondary, which is grades 10 through 12.

These twelve years of education are mandatory and free. Students are around 17 years of age once they finish their required schooling. Nearly all youth and adults are literate in Paraguay.

Despite these statistics, more complicated issues are involved in education in Paraguay, considering that only 45 percent of students end up completing sixth grade, and adults have an average of six years of education in total. Fifteen percent of the population is living on one euro or less a day, and ten percent of children don’t have any access to schooling. Schools that are run by the government are often crowded and lack adequate resources.

According to Generation Rising, the reason for the lack of attendance in Paraguay is due to a variety of reasons such as, “[the children’s] families need them to bring in extra income, there are no schools in their area or the cost of uniforms, textbooks and supplies is simply too much.”

Providing children with accessible, affordable, worthwhile education is an essential to providing them their human rights. While the overall situation in Paraguay has been seemingly increasing in recent years, there is still progress to be made.

Shannon Elder

Photo: Flickr