LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Latin America and the Caribbean region remains an epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic with 4,364,705 confirmed cases and 183,481 deaths as of July 26. It is already the second most affected region after the United States.
As the largest global AIDS organization working in 45 countries whose HIV programs and healthcare facilities have been directly impacted over the years by other infectious disease outbreaks, such as Ebola, Zika, and now COVID-19 – AHF is deeply concerned over the lack of coordination between countries, gaps in communication, and the absence of a unified COVID-19 response plan for the Latin America region.
For these reasons, AHF urges Latin American countries to rapidly adopt a unified, evidence-based COVID-19 response strategy to slow the ongoing, uncontrolled increases in new coronavirus cases and deaths, which have further intensified since June 2020. Urgent action is required to protect regional public health security, while respecting fundamental human rights to life and health for all people of Latin America, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status.
With Latin America on the brink of a catastrophe which will have generational consequences for the people and countries of the region—action must be taken immediately. Additionally, all political considerations must be set aside in the interest of saving as many lives as possible. The most immediate steps should be directed toward providing essential government support, including food and infection control supplies (e.g. masks) to the most vulnerable populations.
Until an effective vaccine and/or treatment are available and accessible to the entire population of the region, AHF urges governments of Latin American countries to implement an evidence-based rescue plan for COVID-19, which seeks to achieve the following:
- Resume economic activities in a planned and strategic way based on scientific evidence with reliable data that provide accurate information for making timely decisions that protect public health.
- Preserve lives and implement a preparedness plan to deter and limit the loss of life in any future outbreaks.
- Implement a unified and coordinated response framework for the region to help prevent the dissemination of contradictory public health information, procedures, and directives.
- Expand access to PCR tests for timely diagnosis of active COVID-19 cases.
- Systematically and methodically implement case finding, contact tracing, and quarantine measures.
- Guarantee universal and free access to medical care for all those who are affected, including treatment and vaccines when they become available.
- Promote correct use of protective masks among the general public.
- Communicate personal hygiene and infection control information to the public in a clear and accessible manner, and tailor it to the types of activities people are engaged in, their level of risk, exposure, and comorbidities.
- In the face of an unprecedented economic crisis, fight hunger and provide food aid to the most vulnerable populations.
- Proactively implement measures to preserve progress that has been made in controlling HIV, TB, malaria, dengue, cholera, and other communicable infectious diseases.
- Guarantee access and availability of personal protective equipment for healthcare workers, as well as adequate training and access to diagnostic tests.
- Promote social awareness and take measures to prevent stigma and discrimination toward healthcare workers, people infected with COVID-19, and those who have recovered.
HIV/AIDS has taught us that to stop the COVID-19 pandemic, we need a coordinated, multi-pronged response strategy across a broad spectrum of social institutions and programs beyond just healthcare.
Additionally, AHF calls on the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) to join us in urging governments of Latin America to take swift and unified action to counter COVID-19.
We must heed the painful lessons of fighting HIV/AIDS over the past 30 years—early detection, prevention, social awareness, and an integrated approach to care must be paired with resolute and unified action across the region to benefit all people in Latin America.
About AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF)
AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS organization, currently provides medical care and/or services to over 1.4 million people in 45 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean, the Asia/Pacific Region and Eastern Europe. To learn more about AHF, please visit our website: www.aidshealth.org, find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/aidshealth and follow us on Twitter: @aidshealthcare and Instagram: @aidshealthcare.