In December 2010, the Organization of American States (OAS) was present at the inauguration of the Center for Severe Immunodeficiencies in Temuco, Chile--the fifth such center in Latin America. The creation of the center was possible thanks to the Latin American Society for Immunodeficiencies (LASID) and the Jeffrey Modell Foundation (JMF), an international organization established in 1987 by Vicki and Fred Modell in memory of their son Jeffrey who died when he was fifteen from complications of a primary imnmnodeficiency. The Modells were also in attendance at the event in Temuco and were able to witness the creation of another center that makes it possible for children born with illnesses like Jeffrey's to survive.
The international network of Jeffrey Modell centers includes more than 50 Diagnostic and Research Centers and the participation of more than 300 doctors from 138 hospitals and medical schools in 120 cities of 39 countries on six continents. The network is growing in Latin America.
The new center in Chile is a significant achievement in the medical-humanitarian crusade being waged by a group of doctors, universities, institutions, and philanthropists from the United States and Latin America. For the last eighteen years, they have been searching for a cure for a group of diseases generically called Primary Immunodeficiencies (PIs). These conditions are little known and seldom treated, but they are probably present in more than 30,000 children in the United States and a similar number in Canada, the Caribbean, and Latin America. Given the lack of unifying criteria, the underestimation of cases, and the current lack of diagnostic skills for this condition, the actual number of cases could be much higher. It may still seem like a small number of children in comparison to other diseases, but PIs are very serious in terms of their economic, social, and human impact, and it is urgent that authorities and the medical community of our countries learn more about them.
In many countries, Primary Immunodefieienees are not on the radar screen of public health organizations. The problem is that children are born with these conditions and if they are not detected in time, the children will die. Thousands of eases continue to go undetected today.
The Health Unit of the OAS is aware of this reality and as part of its commitment to the human rights to life and to healthcare, it organized its first Pan-American Forum on Primary Immunodeficiencies...