Business View Caribbean | Volume 8, Issue 8

13 BUSINESS VIEW CARIBBEAN VOLUME 8, ISSUE 8 Alicia Bárcena, Executive Secretary of the UN regional commission, presented progress on the Comprehensive Plan for Health Self-Sufficiency, during the XXI Meeting of the Foreign Ministers of CELAC. L atin America and the Caribbean can and should become an actor in the development and production of new vaccines, in the framework of a concerted regional health strategy, Alicia Bárcena, Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), stated before 32 Ministers of Foreign Affairs and other high-level authorities from the region, gathered at the XXI Meeting of Foreign Ministers of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), which was held in Mexico. The senior United Nations official presented progress on the Comprehensive Plan for Health Self-Sufficiency, a programmatic blueprint that ECLAC is developing at the request of CELAC for strengthening the production and distribution of medicines, particularly vaccines, in the region’s countries and for reducing external dependence. The meeting was inaugurated by Mexico’s Foreign Minister, Marcelo Ebrard, in that country’s capacity as President Pro Tempore of CELAC, who pointed up the stronger cooperation forged between the Community’s member countries during the pandemic. “If before the pandemic it was proposed that this Community be the main instrument for Latin America and the Caribbean’s integration, we are undoubtedly on the way to achieving that,” Minister Ebrard declared. During her presentation, ECLAC’s Executive Secretary addressed the situation of health care systems and the pharmaceutical industry in the ECLAC: LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN SHOULD DEVELOP RE PLATFORMS FOR PRODUCING AND DISTRIBUTING VACCINES AND M region amid the pandemic, along with the priority actions to be implemented to strengthen them and the components of the Comprehensive Plan for Health Self-Sufficiency. She recalled that Latin America and the Caribbean is the region most affected by the pandemic, with just 8.4% of the world’s population but 32.5% of COVID-19-related deaths worldwide. Alicia Bárcena added that the region faces a paradox today because, although it will grow by 5.2% in 2021, the debt problem persists along with less fiscal space; poverty affects 209 million people and extreme poverty, 82 million; and informality and unemployment have yet to recover. “We are caught in the trap of middle-income countries,” she underlined. The senior official warned about unequal access to vaccines, specifying the asymmetries within the region and those vis-à-vis the rest of the world. She noted that in Latin America and the Caribbean, just 16.8% of the population has completed the full vaccination scheme, while in the United States and Canada, that figure rises to 49.3% of the population, with a surplus of vaccines. Meanwhile, Europe has 44.6% of its population vaccinated. “We OPENING L INES