An injection of solidarity to overcome the pandemic

Francesco Carta photographer - Getty Images

The effects of the COVID-19 on the economy can only be overcome with creative solutions and the efforts of all

Juan E. Notaro

FONPLATA Executive President

As I write these lines, I am working from home, like almost one third of the world's population, complying with the lockdown and social distancing recommendations of the WHO and local health authorities.

Having started with great challenges and important political changes in Latin America, 2020 continues with this pandemic, which, besides the already very visible consequences on public health, will soon have a significant economic impact.

My thoughts are, especially, with the FONPLATA member countries (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay), each with different needs, and which were already facing the challenges of an economic slowdown at the beginning of the year, that will now deepen even more.

While the governments of each of these countries are putting in place mechanisms to address the pandemic, development agencies are also seeking ways to respond to the emergency without losing sight of the necessary support to the economic recovery that will follow.

Regarding the emergency, the epidemic is a test to the health systems of these countries. First, because of the prevention systems and campaigns; second, because of the care to those affected, and, third, because of the necessary adjustment of those systems to face similar events in the future.

This requires development organizations to work closely with governments to provide immediate support, as we have already done by making available a US$1.5-million non-reimbursable cooperation fund to our member countries, for the purchase of medical equipment and other essential supplies in the COVID-19 emergency.

In relation to the care of those affected, it is also important to act fast and with flexibility to shorten times and streamline procedures allowing countries to deploy action mechanisms to fight against the pandemic.

That is what we did to help Argentina, by approving US$53-million loan which is already being used to implement policies to protect the most vulnerable social groups from the effects of the virus. This funding includes, among other things, the construction of 11 modular emergency hospitals, the provision of more than 200 intensive care beds and more than 500, for other treatments.

In addition, we continue communicating with the authorities of all FONPLATA member countries to coordinate solutions to help them better address the emergency and get their economies back on track.

Therefore, we are already analyzing the easing of the approval of some funds, as well as the reallocation of already approved funds, so that countries can use resources to reinforce priority areas.

Of course, this does not mean that we are forgetting our historic commitment to the region: to bring development to the most isolated areas, to the most unprotected populations, to the most distant places.

Therefore, it is still essential to continue our work to provide those regions with infrastructure, so that they have better roads, better water and sanitation services in general, better living conditions that will enable them to be better prepared to deal with health crises and their associated risks.

Something that this pandemic has made clear is that, beyond borders and flags, there is only one human race and we all face common threats, such as this virus, social inequalities, or climate change.

These common threats make even more relevant the cooperation, coordination and integration mechanisms that institutions like FONPLATA make available to countries.

All the ties that can be strengthened between countries, all the alliances that can be forged, all the integration that can be promoted will make us stronger as individuals, as countries and as humankind. That is our commitment.

Text originally published in the monthly column of Juan E. Notaro in the Huffington Post.