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  • Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Director, Dr. Carissa Etienne, says the coronavirus (COVID-19) experience presents the opportunity for member states to prepare for future epidemics and pandemics.
  • PAHO data indicate that as at April 20, the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases across the region totalled 893,120, of which 42,686 persons have died.
  • “This week, we are dispatching 1.5 million more tests throughout the region followed by another three million next week, to strengthen [the] laboratory surveillance networks in our member states,” Dr. Etienne said.

Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Director, Dr. Carissa Etienne, says the coronavirus (COVID-19) experience presents the opportunity for member states to prepare for future epidemics and pandemics.

She noted that the lessons learnt will better enable countries to build resilience and scale up health systems to “deliver on all of the services that our people need, without causing them impoverishment”.

“Indeed, within the whole context of the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we must ensure that our health systems are ready to leave no one behind,” she said, while addressing a PAHO digital media briefing on Tuesday (April 21).

Meanwhile, Dr. Etienne said that the actions of member states in combating the global pandemic must be grounded in the principles of universality, solidarity and equity.

Citing the UN’s unanimous passage, on Monday (April 20), of a resolution proposed by Mexico, to ensure global access to medicines, vaccines and medical supplies, she argued that access to treatments “should not be the privilege of certain countries or communities”.

“Our collective goal must be to ensure that access to the testing, treatment, vaccines and other technologies is available to all, based on their needs. This will be of relevance with regard to vaccines, when one becomes available,” she said.

Dr. Etienne noted that there are a range of existing policies and innovative funding mechanisms for investment, development, and distribution of such a vaccine, and underscored the need for a global mechanism for fair distribution “which recognises the right to health and universal access, within the whole context of SDG 3, which focuses on good health and well-being”.

PAHO data indicate that as at April 20, the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases across the region totalled 893,120, of which 42,686 persons have died.

Jamaica’s confirmed cases rose to 252, as at April 22, with six deaths, while 28 persons have recovered.

In light of the pandemic’s impact on the region, PAHO will be dispatching an additional 4.5 million Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test kits to member states across North, Central and South America and the Caribbean.

“This week, we are dispatching 1.5 million more tests throughout the region followed by another three million next week, to strengthen [the] laboratory surveillance networks in our member states,” Dr. Etienne said.

These are in addition to more than 500,000 already supplied to some 34 countries, the Director indicated.

The provisions form part of efforts to assist member countries and territories, totalling about 52, in accelerating and expanding COVID-19 testing in a bid to detect and restrict further spread.

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