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Jul 25, 2023

By Fabia Tetteroo-Bueno, Zone Leader for Philips Latin America

Latin America, a region known for its energy, vibrant culture, and breathtaking natural beauty, is also confronted with significant healthcare challenges. These challenges, stemming from social, economic, and political upheavals, have created structural inequality and limited access to quality healthcare for many people. 

Recognizing the urgency for change, Philips Foundation and Philips Latin America, together with key strategic partners in the region, have been working tirelessly over the five past years to address two critical areas: non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and access to healthcare.


Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) work in Latin America

Non-communicable diseases, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory diseases, and diabetes, have been on the rise in Latin America and the Caribbean and are projected to account for 82% of all deaths in the region [1]. To combat the severity of these issues, it is crucial to forge partnerships that have a lasting impact on health outcomes. With this purpose in mind, Philips LATAM and Philips Foundation have joined forces with organizations to make a meaningful difference where it is most needed.


In Nicaragua, Estación Vital, a social enterprise, received support from Philips Foundation in 2018 and 2019 to continue developing a digital platform that promotes healthy lifestyle changes for individuals suffering from obesity-related conditions. With obesity affecting a significant portion of the population in Latin America, Estación Vital aims to improve the health outcomes of Nicaraguans through a combination of nutritional and psychological tools. This collaborative effort, supported by Philips Foundation and partners, has made a significant impact on the lives of individuals struggling with obesity-related health issues in Nicaragua.


Colombia has faced an increasing incidence of prostate cancer, as this type of cancer is becoming the leading cause of cancer incidence worldwide and the second leading cause of cancer mortality among men [2]. In 2018, Philips Foundation supported La Liga Contra el Cáncer in raising awareness and increasing the rate of early diagnosis using ultrasound technology. This collaborative endeavor has resulted in improved prognoses and enhanced quality of life for Colombians living with prostate cancer.


Additionally, the Paulo Gontijo Institute (IPG) organized the 'Living with ALS' campaign in 2019 to raise awareness and provide early diagnosis for individuals affected by Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) in Brazil. Through collaboration among healthcare professionals and the local community, this initiative successfully raised awareness about ALS and ensured that those affected received timely support and care.

It is crucial to forge partnerships that have a lasting impact on health outcomes.


Improving access to quality healthcare 

Improving access to healthcare has been another pivotal focus for Philips Foundation, Philips LATAM, and their partners in Latin America. In my commentary piece of 2020, I already emphasized that this focus gained even greater significance during the COVID-19 pandemic, which disproportionately impacted the region, including remote areas like the Amazon. Between 2020 and 2022, Philips Foundation and Philips worked in collaboration with local partners in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Mexico, and Peru to provide vital health technologies and expertise, alleviating pressure on local healthcare systems.


In Peru, where over 10 million people lack access to primary healthcare, Philips Foundation recognized the critical role of point-of-care ultrasound in low-resource emergency departments. To address the lack of education pathways for emergency medicine physicians to learn ultrasound, Philips Foundation partnered with Ondas de Latinoamerica to create a fellowship program. Through the innovative use of tele-ultrasound and remote education tools, this initiative empowered emergency medicine physicians to become leaders in ultrasound, significantly enhancing diagnostic capabilities at the bedside and benefiting underserved communities.

Similarly, in Brazil, Philips Foundation collaborated with SAS Brasil in 2020 to deploy four remote Advanced Telemedicine Units (ATU) in hard-to-reach areas. These ATUs, equipped with telehealth and medical equipment such as mobile ultrasound, have revolutionized healthcare delivery in rural regions. By empowering local health workers and enabling specialized health services, these units have brought much-needed care to some of Brazil's most remote communities. The successful outcomes of this collaboration have paved the way for further expansion in 2023, utilizing mobile health units to reach even more remote regions.


Addressing the challenges in cancer diagnosis and treatment in Argentina has been a priority for Philips Foundation and its partners. With the incidence of cancer expected to rise significantly in the coming years, particularly lung cancer, timely diagnosis remains a challenge due to a lack of trained professionals in public hospitals. To overcome this issue, Philips Foundation partnered with Fundación para la Investigación, Docencia y Prevención del Cáncer (FUCA) in 2022 to implement remote tele-radiology diagnosis solutions. This initiative will enable thoracic pathology specialists to virtually analyze approximately 25,000 images annually, expediting diagnosis and treatment. Hospitals in remote areas will also receive training to effectively utilize this technology, bridging the gap in access to quality cancer care.


Recognizing the importance of education and training in addressing healthcare challenges, especially in low- and middle-income countries, Philips Foundation partnered with Global Neuro in 2021. This collaboration aims to create sustainable and scalable education and training models with advanced diagnostic tools in underserved areas of Colombia. Through the use of portable diagnosis and monitoring technology, healthcare providers in clinics, community health centers, ambulances, trauma centers, and public hospitals can enhance their decision-making skills. This initiative has a significantly positive impact on improving healthcare access in areas with limited resources.


In 2022, Philips Foundation initiated a multi-year cross-continental partnership with RAD-AID to promote access to diagnostic ultrasound services in 10 countries, including Grenada and Guyana. This collaboration harnesses the virtual care capabilities of Philips ultrasound solutions, enabling RAD-AID to implement a highly scalable, remote 'train-the-trainer' model. By providing curriculum-based education and hands-on teaching, this initiative empowers healthcare providers with the skills necessary to enhance healthcare access, particularly for mothers and children.


Leading with purpose

As a Latin-American leader, I am immensely proud of the role all players in the sector have been playing to improve healthcare across the continent. The collaborations and partnerships with these entrepreneurs and organizations in Latin America are the cornerstone of our efforts to overcome healthcare challenges and fulfill Philips' legacy in the region. 


Bolstered by the support from the Philips Foundation and its partners, we are actively bridging words and action to enhance quality of life and extend healthcare access in Latin America. Our guiding beacon is, and always will be, our unwavering commitment to making a tangible difference in people’s lives with our innovation.

Bolstered by the support from the Philips Foundation and its partners, we are actively bridging words and action to enhance quality of life and extend healthcare access in Latin America.


[1] OECD and the World Bank (2020). Health at a Glance: Latin America and the Caribbean 2020
[2] World Cancer Research Fund International (2020). Prostate cancer statistics
[3] World Health Organization (2017). Primary health care systems‎: Comprehensive case study from Peru




Fabia Tetteroo-Bueno is the Zone Leader for Philips Latin America, with over 25 years of experience in various senior roles within the company. During the past 7.5 years, she has been a dedicated advocate for Philips' mission to improve global health and sustainability through innovation, while improving healthcare access and promoting diversity and inclusion in our region. Her management style is "Purpose Led, Performance Driven," reflecting her commitment to leading with a clear sense of purpose. 

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