Health and the economy: A convergence needed to address COVID-19 and retake the path of sustainable development in Latin America and the Caribbean

Health and the economy

This joint report by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) is issued at a time when several countries of Latin America and the Caribbean have become the epicenter of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. The region is particularly vulnerable because of its high levels of labor informality, urbanization, poverty and inequality, and its weak health and social protection systems, in addition to the fact that it has large population groups living in vulnerable conditions and who require special attention. While the Caribbean countries have managed to control the pandemic more quickly, the Latin American countries have not yet been able to reduce infection levels.

The main conclusion of this report is that if the pandemic transmission curve is not brought under control, the countries’ economies will be unable to recover. It also states that, in order to both control the pandemic and reopen the economy, States must demonstrate effective and dynamic leadership and stewardship through national plans that incorporate health, economic and social policies. Moreover, for the pandemic to be controlled and economic recovery and reconstruction promoted, fiscal spending must be increased and made more efficient, effective and equitable, with public spending on health equivalent to at least 6% of GDP.