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Video: The Future of Health Systems in Latin America and the Caribbean

Wednesday, June 3, 2020


  • Rolf Hoenger, Area Head, Roche Latin America 
  • Fernando Pedro, Chief Medical Officer, Amil
  • Hugo Villegas, President, Latin America, Medtronic 
  • James Fitzgerald, Director, Health Systems and Services, Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization 
  • Felicia Knaul, Director, University of Miami Institute for Advanced Study of the Americas and Professor, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine
  • Ferdinando Regalia, Chief, Social Protection and Health Division, Inter-American Development Bank
  • Eric Farnsworth, Vice President, Council of the Americas (moderator)
  • Zoe Dauth, Senior Manager and Coordinator, Healthcare Series, Americas Society/Council of the Americas

As Latin America becomes the new global coronavirus epicenter, public health experts and private healthcare leaders participated in a AS/COA Healthcare Series discussion addressing how advances in technology and regional coordination might improve healthcare in the region. In the first panel, which featured the private sector’s perspective, Roche’s Rolf Hoenger talked about how the pandemic has highlighted the need to adapt regulations and keep communication with the public sector open. Fernando Pedro talked about Amil implementing telehealth in Brazil and said the company is in the process of gathering data to learn more about increasing access to underserved areas in the country. Medtronic’s Hugo Villegas said only one third of population in Latin America has access to top healthcare technology and said the pandemic will require new business models in the healthcare sector. “There’ll be more need for healthcare with limited budget,” he said, stressing stakeholders’ need to better align their objectives.

On the second panel with public health experts, PAHO’s James Fitzgerald highlighted how the pandemic goes beyond a health crisis to a social and economic ones, and that there is false choice between emergency response and investing in health systems. Fairness and equal access will be keys to implementing solutions such as vaccine development across the region, he said. University of Miami's Felicia Knaul talked about the underlying conditions Latin America struggled with before becoming the epicenter, as countries deal with fast-aging populations, repressive regimes that have at times denied evidence-based policies, conflict-related migration, and weak health systems. Knaul said she hopes that state leaders will continue to enforce social distancing rules while countries reopen their economies amid case increases. The IDB’s Ferdinando Regalia talked about how to most effectively invest in technology and the healthcare sector as many countries prepare for an economic depression and to, for now, not cut their healthcare budget.