Bolivia is a landlocked country located in western-central South America. It is bordered to the north and east by Brazil, to the southeast by Paraguay, to the south by Argentina, to the southwest by Chile, and to the northwest by Peru. The country’s population, estimated at 10 million, is multiethnic, including Amerindians, Mestizos, Europeans, Asians and Africans, with Spanish being the major language.
Based on 2013 The World Factbook estimates, Bolivia is ranked 161st in life expectancy with a number of 68.2 years. A study by the United Nations Development Programme and United Nations International Emergency Children’s Fund reported over 230 babies died per day in Bolivia through lack of proper care. The majority of the population has no health insurance or access to healthcare.
Read about our recent visit to Cochabamba.
We are currently focused on the city of Cochabamba, located in a valley bearing the same name in the Andes mountain range in Central Bolivia. It is the capital of the Cochabamba Department and is the fourth largest city in Bolivia with an estimated population of 630,587. Cochabamba is known as the “City of Eternal Spring” and “The Garden City” due to its spring-like temperatures year round.
With increasing life style changes, and a move to the big cities, there is an increasing prevalence of diabetes and other diseases. Along with diabetic retinopathy, there is an increasing diagnosis of age-related macular degeneration in the country.
We are working with the Fundacion Boliviana de Oftalmologia, based in Cochabamba. They have a significant presence in the city and a good outreach program, as well as a robust residency program that offers a well-designed teaching and training curriculum.
We will work with the ophthalmologists in Cochabamba as well as others in Bolivia to help provide for retinal care on the ground, with the ultimate goal being to train a retina specialist who can provide care to the many patients in the country.
Image credits: Wikimedia (top & bottom) & Lonely Planet (center)