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Unpacking Latin America

Unpacking Latin America is a monthly podcast hosted by Prof. Vicky Murillo on the exciting research produced by Columbia scholars about Latin American history, culture and politics, which helps our understanding of the contemporary challenges of the region. It is produced in English and selectively in Spanish.

Apr 1, 2020

Dr. Silvia S. Martins is the Director of the Substance Use Epidemiology Unit of the Department of Epidemiology, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and of the Policy and Health Initiatives on Opioids and other Substances interdisciplinary group (PHIOS). She is also the co-director of the NIDA T32 Substance Abuse Epidemiology Training Program in the department and the Course Director of Principles of Epidemiology (P6400). Silvia obtained her MD and PhD in her natal Brazil.


In this episode, Silvia talks about the different patterns of COVID19 spread across the countries of Latin America and the importance of timely responses in shaping its pace while emphasizing the challenges for the large vulnerable population of the region. Based on the experience of Brazil, she discusses the importance of faster and more coordinated health responses to the pandemic while highlighting the impact of unified as opposed to contradictory messages to the population. The density and inequality of NYC, which generate parallels to Latin American cities, presents challenges for the Latino population, which often lacks adequate medical insurance based on their migration status. She concludes drawing lessons from the NYC experience for the region as well as lessons from Latin America for the US.