Sep 22, 2021 - Health

COVID highlights high dependence of Latin America on medical imports

bolivia covid
Photo: Jorge Bernal/AFP via Getty Images

Latin American officials on Wednesday highlighted how the pandemic has exposed the dangers of the high dependence of the region on imports of health technologies from the international community.

What they're saying: "The region... must never experience the dependency that it experienced with COVID-19," Carla Vizzotti, Argentina's minister of health, said during a panel hosted by the Atlantic Council and Axios Latino. "We must altogether say 'never again."

  • “We need to accelerate our self sufficiency by mobilizing multi-sectoral and with the stakeholders participation," Vizzotti added.

Driving the news: A May 2020 study found that less than 4% of medical products essential to combatting COVID-19 were sourced from within Latin America and the Caribbean.

The big picture: To help provide the region and other low-income countries worldwide with the needed supplies and knowledge to develop affordable health technologies, the World Health Organization, in partnership with Costa Rica, last year launched the COVID-19 Technology Access Pool (C-TAP) initiative.

  • The initiative calls on developers of COVID-19 health technologies to "share their intellectual property, knowledge and data" with quality-assured manufacturers.
  • But the initiative "has not advanced, as expected, particularly because large countries... have not joined," Costa Rica Vice President Epsy Campbell Barr said.
  • "It is insufficient if we feel like we can only work with countries that have more money and leave behind the poorer countries," she added.

Watch the full event here.

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