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Latin America in intensive care

covid latinoamericaThe health crisis generated by the pandemic continues unchecked in Latin America, where corruption is rampant in the distribution of vaccines; insufficient health coverage is the norm; institutions are overwhelmed; and personnel on the front lines fighting COVID lack basic protective equipment.

The region reports 45.6 million infections and one million deaths. In 23 countries vaccination plans have been developed, while efforts have begun in Argentina, Mexico, Ecuador, Panama, Chile, Bolivia and Brazil, although inequitable distribution has been condemned, according to the Pan American Health Organization.

In Ecuador, the National Assembly approved the dismissal of Health Minister Juan Carlos Zevallos, and the initiation of impeachment proceedings as a result of his mismanagement of the national COVID-19 vaccination plan. The minister is accused of prioritizing his relatives and a private nursing home in Quito, disregarding the list of public hospitals prepared by the Ministry of Health.

Likewise, police are investigating a clandestine clinic to the south of Quito, where an unknown substance has been distributed as a vaccine against the coronavirus, at a cost of 15 USD per dose.

Brazilian Minister of Health Eduardo Pazuello is also being investigated by the Federal Supreme Court, to determine responsibility for the lack of oxygen, desperately needed to treat COVID-19 patients, in the state of Amazonas, principally in the capital, Manaus.

This Brazilian state experienced two weeks of total collapse of its services, with an insufficient number of beds available and no plan to refer patients to other cities. Also under investigation is the use of 120,000 units of hydroxychloroquine to treat the disease, although no scientific evidence of its effectiveness exists.

In the wake of these scandals, the impeachment of President Jair Bolsonaro is being considered, based on his irresponsibility and negligence. Faced with the government’s passivity in the face of the epidemic, the coalitions Brasil Popular and Pueblo sin miedo organized 87 mobilizations throughout the country to demand the President’s resignation.

Colombia’s situation is grim as well, with intensive care units reaching a 90% occupation rate, mostly COVID-19 patients. Health workers are exhausted and protective biosecurity equipment, medicines and supplies for the care of critical patients are in short supply. The government and President Iván Duque have responded with silence and ambiguous speeches.

According to the Chilean Ministry of Health, only 192 beds are available nationwide to treat patients in intensive care, and Minister Enrique Paris stated that the number of infections has recently increased by 6%. In addition, a complaint has been filed against the private clinic CareFullHome, which has charged some 80 USD for PCR tests, reported as negative without performing the necessary molecular study.

This is the panorama faced in many Latin American nations, and it is not yet known how much longer the pandemic will continue to rage.

The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean warned, in October of 2020, that the region is experiencing the worst crisis seen in the last 100 years, with major social and economic impact.

(Taken from Granma)

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