chapter  25
Organization of Epilepsy Care: Latin America
Pages 10

The Latin American countries are densely populated. In the year 1999, the popu­ lation was 507,306,000. Poverty is still highly prevalent. In the year 2000, over 36% of Latin American homes and over 220 million people were living below poverty line. These figures are similar to the ones in 1994 and slighdy higher than the figures for the year 1980. Income distribution has not changed much over the past decade. High levels of inequality still exist. In Argentina and Uruguay, less than 15% of households are below poverty line. In Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica and Panama, it is 15% to 30% and in the third group, which includes Colombia, El Salvador, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Dominican Republic and Venezuela, 31% to 50% of the house­ holds. Bolivia, Ecuador, Honduras and Nicaragua have the highest poverty levels, over 50% of households. This study also revealed that having a formal job in the public sector or in a private company was no guarantee for being above the poverty line. One of the main factors regarding rural poverty was land access. In terms of income distribution, the study indicates that resistance to change and unequal dis­ tribution of income have become notorious during critical times. Analysis of the changes in distribution in nine countries, from 1986 to 1997 showed that four significant setbacks were experienced in terms of distribution in Argentina, Mexico, Panama and Venezuela, there was practically no change in Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica and Paraguay-and only in Uruguay inequality decreased significandy. (The data cited is from the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and Social Development World Summit, United Nations, 1999: www.un.org).