In the 20th century, Carter Center representatives met with leaders in Brazil as part of a fact-finding tour to prepare for the consultation "Agenda for the Americas for the 21st Century."
Carter Center representatives met with leaders in Brazil as part of a fact-finding tour to prepare for the 1997 consultation "Agenda for the Americas for the 21st Century." The delegation included former U.S. President Jimmy Carter; Rosalynn Carter; Dr. Robert Pastor, then director of the Center's Americas Program; and Dr. Jennifer McCoy of the Americas Program. The mission, which included stops in Argentina, Chile, and Jamaica, helped to set the agenda for discussions at The Carter Center.
In May 2009, former President Carter, with a Carter Center delegation, visited Sao Paolo, where he received the Ordem do Ipiranga, Brazil's highest civilian award, in recognition of the Carter administration's work on human rights and democracy promotion in the region. In addition, the delegation traveled to Brasilia, where they met with President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to discuss the upcoming 2010 presidential election.
The Carter Center is working to stop the transmission of river blindness in the rainforest area of the border between Brazil and Venezuela, an important part of an international effort to eliminate this disease from Latin America.
Current status: Transmission ongoing
Brazil's last remaining transmission zone for onchocerciasis, also known as river blindness, is the Amazonas focus, a densely forested area bordering Venezuela. Along with the Venezuelan South Focus, it comprises the Yanomami region, a contiguous transmission zone straddling the border. The migratory Yanomami people move fluidly from one side of the border to the other and are exposed to the parasitic disease as they travel throughout the Amazon. Providing medicine and health education in this area presents many challenges as it is remote, insecure, and highly endemic. Consequently these two foci are the last in the Americas in which active transmission still occurs.
In 1996, the first year of mass drug administration in Brazil, 1,276 Mectizan® treatments (donated by Merck) were distributed. This was vastly short of the amount needed to treat the eligible population of 4,500 twice-yearly to prevent the onset of blindness. Between 2001 and 2013, the Brazilian mass drug administration program administered 24 semiannual treatments of Mectizan® (donated by Merck), reaching at least 85 percent of the eligible population. Consistently maintaining this level of coverage is vital to the eventual elimination of river blindness. Surveys indicate Brazil is close to suppressing transmission in its shared part of the Yanomami region. Quarterly treatments are being provided to 10 areas within Brazil's Amazonas focus, and prevalence of infection dropped from 14.7 percent in 2007 to 4 percent in 2012.
A strong partnership between the Brazilian and Venezuelan governments remains a crucial factor in elimination of river blindness in the shared Yanomami area. In 2014, the Brazilian and Venezuelan ministers of health signed a formal agreement to coordinate the effort towards elimination along their border. The agreement includes The Carter Center's Onchocerciasis Elimination Program for the Americas (OEPA), Merck's Mectizan® Donation Program, and the World Health Organization/Pan American Health Organization to reach this goal.
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Size: 8,515,770 square kilometers
Population: 204,259,812 (July 2015 est.)
Population below poverty line: 21 percent
Life expectancy: 74 years
Ethnic groups: white, mixed race, black, other (includes Japanese, Arab, Amerindian), indigenous, unspecified
Religions: Roman Catholic (nominal), Protestant, Spiritualist, Bantu/voodoo, other, unspecified, none
Languages: Portuguese (official and most widely spoken language), less common languages include Spanish (border areas and schools), German, Italian, Japanese, English, and a large number of minor Amerindian languages
Source: U.S. Central Intelligence Agency World Factbook 2015