The Covid-19 pandemic has been the great concern of the leaders of Latin America before the 75th General Assembly of the United Nations.
“This pandemic has quite exposed the real inequality of the world we live in,” Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández said Wednesday. “We have seen when there is a low endowment of a drug that the producing country retains production. The same happens with medical equipment: in some countries they have had productions seized, for exclusive use, prohibiting sales to other countries ”.
“And the rest of the nations? What do people die? ”He asked. “What is going to happen with vaccines? Who will have access to them? Are there lists of countries for that already? “
Latin America is one of the regions most affected by the new coronavirus. Brazil, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, and Argentina are among the ten countries with the most infections. And the economies of the entire region are feeling the effects of the pandemic, which paralyzed much of the activities and increased unemployment.
As of Wednesday, Latin America has reported 8 million 800 thousand cases of the new coronavirus and more than 327 thousand 800 deaths.
“It is essential that vaccines reach the most vulnerable people in the first place” and are not monopolized by the rich, Costa Rican President Carlos Alvarado said yesterday.
His Argentine colleague Alberto Fernández said that when a vaccine against the virus is produced, “it has to be a global public good, accessible to all nations in an equitable way.”
“We demand that the vaccine be accessible to all human beings on the planet. For this an organization like this was born ”, added Dominican President Luis Abinader.
Also on Wednesday and in her weekly virtual conference, the director of the Pan American Health Organization, Carissa Etienne , urged the countries of the region to participate in the COVAX Mechanism that guarantees access to a basket of at least fifteen vaccines against Covid-19.
Etienne said that at least fourteen countries in the Americas – including Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, and Venezuela – have signed a letter of intent to join this initiative from the World Health Organization and other organizations. Ten more countries, including Bolivia, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua, are eligible for financial assistance, and another thirteen have expressed interest in participating, including Brazil, Mexico, and Ecuador.
“We still don’t know which vaccine will be considered safe and effective and how it will work,” Etienne said. “But we do know that if we don’t prepare now, we will lose the opportunity to benefit quickly.”
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Hernández also affirmed that the multilateral credit organizations “have not lived up to this colossal tragedy and there has been a poor response to the need for financing, for moratoriums, to address the collapse of our economies.”
Fernández , for his part, denounced the “abusive and extortionate behaviors” of the credit institutions and said that “no country can pay its debt at the cost of leaving its people without health, without education, without security or without the ability to grow”.
“We urge the international community to continue looking for new multilateral alternatives that facilitate the orderly restructuring of debts and ensure the greatest availability of resources for the application of public policies to face the pandemic and sustain growth,” said Fernández .
Calls abound to reform the UN to make it more efficient and generate concrete results. The ineffectiveness of the system is evident in the lack of actions to combat climate change, according to Hernández .
“It is necessary to go from theory to fact. Climate change has been an emergency for several years and we still don’t know where the famous green climate funds are, ”he said, referring to funds that are supposed to help developing countries adapt to climate change and mitigate its effects. “We have been looking for them for several years, waiting for them, we have not found them. Does anyone know where they are that they don’t appear? “
Honduras, Hernández said , is one of the three most vulnerable countries in the world to the effects of climate change.
The Panamanian President Laurentino Cortizo said the ” Covid-19 has demonstrated the profound inequalities existing” and that “if before some chose to ignore” poverty and inequality, “is now impossible not to recognize in its stark reality”.
“We have to do something and soon to move from words to deeds, from rhetoric to action,” said Honduran Hernández . “Doesn’t it bother you? Doesn’t it bother you in your conscience that year after year it’s the same? It does to me!”