Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Science of Colombia

Although corporate and government corruption is commonplace, Colombia has made some of the most advanced science and medicine advances in Latin America. Many of these discoveries are used worldwide, such as LASIK eye surgery. Around 1950 the technique behind this surgery was invented by an ophthalmologist in Bogotá named Jose Barraquer.

Barraquer Eyes Video

Since then there have been many achievements. The first Latin American test tube baby was born in Colombia in 1985. In the same year the first heart transplant was performed here as well. Perhaps Colombia’s greatest discovery used around the globe is something known as “kangaroo care,” which helps premature babies grow and stay healthy without an incubator. It began in 1978 in Bogotá because there were so many mothers who were having premature babies without the money to pay for the necessary healthcare. Instead of keeping the babies in incubators, doctors told the mothers to hold their babies close to their breasts so that skin-to-skin contact provides warm and nourishment, hence the way a kangaroo mother carries her baby. This method has grown dramatically since then and is used throughout first world countries.

Kangaroo Care Video

The most obvious medical advances are with plastic surgery. I know a bunch of young women in Bogotá who have had breast implants. In Cali and Medellín it seems as normal as lipstick or high heels. Many foreigners come to Colombia for operations because plastic surgery is at least three times cheaper than in the United States, while the surgery is exactly the same.

Having grown up in America, I always thought the U.S. had far superior medicine compared to poorer countries like Colombia. I’ve learned that this isn’t necessarily true, and that often it is a better bargain here in Colombia. I am sure Colombia will continue to make many more discoveries in science and medicine that will help people across the globe, such as a Malaria vaccination. The only thing missing is a way to ensure that more people have access to these great discoveries.


Iván said...

You forgot the heart pacemaker, that's a big one. It was invented by the colombian doctor Jorge Reynolds.
Very interesting post.

Brett Garamella said...

Hi Iván, you're right the pacemaker is a big one. I've read that it was invented by Canadian John Hopps, however, and that Dr. Reynolds was responsible for designing one of the first pacemakers.

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