Latin America's Uncoordinated Response in Tackling COVID-19

The response of Latin American countries to the COVID-19 pandemic has been nationalistic, uncoordinated and varied in terms of effectiveness. Unlike in Africa, where there has been a great deal of coordinated action by continental bodies charged with public health, shared Latin American institutions (such as the Pan-American Health Organization) have been unable to develop common approaches and initiatives to deal with the pandemic. The two largest economies, Brazil and Mexico, have had some of the least effective policy responses to the virus and failed to either initiate or support the development of a common approach. Strategies adopted for the Zika virus in 2016 and lessons learned from this health crisis have not been reinstated for COVID-19, exposing and aggravating fault lines in Latin American societies. Moreover, excessive politicisation (as in the case of Brazil, Mexico and Nicaragua), coupled with insufficient resources for both healthcare and social support, has also hampered national responses. Economic consequences have been felt widely across the region, and poverty, unemployment and inequality have increased sharply.