WASHINGTON, DC - The Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Carissa F. Etienne, today called for the collaboration of the private sector with countries of Latin America and the Caribbean "in response to the tsunami of COVID-19 cases that we will be facing."
Speaking at the World Economic Forum's COVID Action Platform Virtual Meeting for Latin America, Dr. Etienne said, "We must draw on the capacities and resources of the private health sector, including commercial and not-for-profit providers of health products and services. We can benefit from your capacity to innovate, produce and deliver in this time of great need."
In the Region of the Americas, she said, "We are expecting millions of lives to be directly and indirectly impacted by COVID-19. Lives are being lost, our health and wellbeing is being directly threatened, our health systems overwhelmed, and our health workers pushed to their very limit."
PAHO's Director told the forum's session of ministers, CEOs, and senior executives leading the COVID-19 response, "I ask you to work hand in hand with governments in planning the use and maximizing the availability of your resources."
She called on private sector leaders, "Help us and countries in Latin America and the Caribbean to resolve the greatest and most immediate challenge we are facing: access to quality, affordable COVID-19 tests and personal protective equipment, or PPEs."
"The private sector has an important role in ensuring health systems resilience. Your resources, including healthcare services, facilities, labs, transport logistics capacity, staffing, information systems, technology and equipment - including key equipment such as ventilators – can readily be made available to surge capacity of the health system," Dr. Etienne said.
As of April 2, 51 countries and territories in the Americas have reported 247,473 confirmed cases and 5.600 deaths.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, PAHO has been supporting countries in the surveillance of the novel coronavirus and contact tracing, in testing, in accessing vital supplies including PPEs, and the reorganization of health services in preparedness for COVID-19, in risk communication, and in the implementation of strategies that build resilience within health systems.
The private sector, PAHO's Director said, can also "innovate and develop the science and technology we need. Make sure your products meet international regulatory standards. In the development and marketing of a new vaccine for COVID-19, please ensure mechanisms to guarantee universal access to the vaccine."
She added: "As the pandemic proceeds, and millions are economically impacted, work with your partners and with governments to strengthen the safety nets for all, but in particular for the most vulnerable. The private sector has an important advocacy role to play in this regard."
In addition to PAHO, participants in the WEF forum included Inter-American Development Bank President, Luis Alberto Moreno; Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean Executive Secretary, Alicia Barcena. Both Moreno and Barcena also addressed the social and economic impact that COVID-19 will have in the countries during and after the outbreak.