Javier Abi-Saab (Fiocruz News Agency)
The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the high dependence of Latin America and the Caribbean on imported consumables and technologies for health, including vaccines. As a response to this issue, member states of the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) launched last Friday (August 27th) a collaborative platform that brings together governments and interested parties of the public and private sectors, taking up the mission of facilitating the expansion of services and production related to health in the Americas.
“Latin America is in a vulnerable position as it depends on other countries’ production of vaccines and consumables. We must increase each country’s capacities and together reduce this dependence. This, however, requires time and coordination, collaboration and investments”, said Carissa Etienne, PAHO Director.
The goal of the platform is to generate a space of discussion and exchange of experiences in order to identify opportunities for regional cooperation and articulation of initiatives that will increase the production capacity of drugs and other sanitary technologies as a way to contribute to more equitable access, explained Jarbas Barbosa, Assistant Director of PAHO. For him, there are three lines of strategic action that must be strengthened by the countries of the region: coherence in intersectoral action, governance in health, science, technology and industry; capacity for research, development, production, and logistics; and regional and subregional collaboration, as well as strategic alliances.
Nisia Trindade Lima defended integrated and sustainable actions
The need for integrated and sustainable actions was highlighted by Nísia Trindade Lima, Fiocruz's president, during her intervention at the event. “I believe that sustainability requires a continual policy of science and technology and health that aims to ensure the population’s access and right to healthcare. To think about sustainability, we must think about innovation and continual resources in a feasible fashion”, said Nísia, reinforcing the role of the platform as a tool to promote collaboration between the countries of the region.
The event that launched the platform was organized in two panels: the first with representatives of international organizations and the second with representatives of governments that are members of PAHO. The first panel consisted of: Soumya Swaminathan, of the World Health Organization (WHO); Anabel González, of the World Trade Organization (WTO); and Richard Hatchett, of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI). The second panel had the presence of: Daniel Salas Peraza, Ministry of Health of Costa Rica; María Apólito, Sub-Secretary of Economy of Knowledge of Argentina; Andrés Couve, Ministry of Science, Technology, Knowledge and Innovation of Chile; Willian Savedoff, representative of the Inter-American Development Bank (BID); Alberto Arenas, representative of the Economic Committee for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC); in addition to Nísia Trindade Lima.