THE recent reflection by Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, who was reported to have said, “It would not be strange if US had developed the technology to induce cancer and nobody knew about it until now…I don’t know. I am just reflecting.” “But this is very, very, very strange…it’s a bit difficult to explain this, to reason it, including using law of probabilities”. He was referring to the strange fact that four of the current and former Latin American country heads have been under treatment for cancer.
The US part of the statement may be viewed as a conspiracy theory by the socialist leader and I am not sure whether such kind of technology exists too, but the latter part of the statement does raise some curiosity.
According to news reports, Paraguay president Fernando Lugo, Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff and former Brazilian leader Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Argentina’s president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner along with Chavez, have been diagnosed with different types of cancer.
While non communicable diseases are steadily replacing communicable disease is majority of the countries of the world, cancer is eating up a large chuck of it. But going by the list, one can’t help but be curious how so many leaders around the same time are undergoing various degrees of cancer treatment.
Perhaps, one needs to carry out an epidemiological study in the Latin American region to unravel this mystery, for I agree with Chavez that does seem suspicious.
Detection of cancer among political leaders is not new. While in Latin America one notices a cluster, the disease has shown no discrimination in afflicting country head and ministers from developed as well as developing countries. Interestingly, 2011 saw many political figures detected with cancer. For instance, Ireland finance minister Brian Lenihan, who recently died of pancreatic cancer, battled the disease for 18 months by working nearly 17 hours a day, news website Irishcentral.com stated.
Now, one would expect that when leaders experienced the angst of suffering from a wide-spread, wallet draining disease, policies for affordable medicines and treatment would follow. Things are changing and the policies for free or subsidised cancer treatment is beginning to be rolled out by various governments, but the implementation is very slow.
Some political leaders diagnosed with cancer in 2011
- Thyroid cancer – Argentina president Cristina Fernandez
- Throat cancer – Brazil’s former president Lula
- Lymphatic cancer – Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo
- Prostate cancer – Venezuala president Hugo Chavez, Kenya health minister Professor Anyang Nyong’o
- Pancreatic cancer – Ireland minister of Justice and more recently, Minister of Finance Brian Joseph Lenihan
- Breast cancer – Zimbabwe Deputy Prime Minister Thokozani Khupe, Belize (a country between Mexico and Guetamala) Prime Minister’s wife Kim Barrow