- Women protesting the plight of Beatriz, San Salvador
- Agrupación Ciudadana por la Despenalización del Aborto Terapéutico
All most of us know is that a woman named Beatriz, a 22-year old mother of one, is critically ill in a San Salvador hospital with kidney failure, an auto-immune disorder and at the center of a growing controversy.
Beatriz is also five months pregnant with an anencephalic fetus, a fatal malformation where the brain and skull of the fetus are largely missing.
Doctors say the baby will almost certainly be born dead and with all of these factors Beatriz must abort the fetus to save her life. But Beatriz’ chance for survival is illegal in this tiny and very Catholic country.
“We hope that the Supreme Court treats this case with the urgency it merits, given that Beatriz’s life and health are at risk,” said Esther Major, Amnesty International’s expert on Central America. “She is suffering cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in being denied the medical intervention she so urgently needs.
To be a poor woman with an unwanted pregnancy in El Salvador is to be at the convergence of misfortune. Abortion has been entirely illegal in El Salvador, without exception, since 1998. Such bans do not result in fewer abortions, of course, just more clandestine and unsafe procedures. Continue reading
tuberculosis patient, El Salvador
Catastrophe. That was the word Dr. Herbert Betancourt used when I asked him Tuesday what impact the shortfall in Global Fund donations may have on the effort to reduce the AIDS and TB burden in El Salvador.
“The most negative impact will be on prevention (efforts), followed later by treatment,” says Betancourt, country officer for the Joint United Nations Program on AIDS, or UNAIDS, in El Salvador. Together, he says, cutbacks on these two fronts will allow AIDS and TB (which often accompanies advanced HIV infection) to surge back. This, he says, would be tragic and potentially catastrophic.
Middle-income countries like El Salvador, Betancourt says, are at great risk of losing support from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. When funding gets tight, he says, the international community will look for places to cut and programs in middle-income countries will appear more expendable than those in poor countries. Continue reading
It’s kind of a cliche to say disease knows no borders, but sometimes you have to state the obvious.
El Salvador is just a short flight away from the U.S. As if to emphasize just how globalized things are, Salvadorans now use American dollars as official currency (though the colón remains legal tender).
AIDS and tuberculosis are serious problems in this tiny, densely populated Central American nation (7 million people in a nation that’s about one-tenth the size of Washington state).
And if these infectious diseases cannot be contained in El Salvador, they can be exchanged across borders almost as easily as the dollar. Continue reading