Covid-19: Latin America Needs to Rebuild Regional Integration in Health

Publication Date: 
Item Reference: 
PB -2020-5
Covid-19 Series
Publication Place: 
UNU Institute on Comparative Regional Integration Studies
Publication Language: 
Policy Brief Type: 

The Coronavirus pandemic (Covid-19) affects the region at a time of high fragmentation and, above all, of complete narrowing of its programmatic agenda. The almost exclusive dedication to trade liberalization issues and the "Venezuela question" left a string of displaced mechanisms and coordination spaces, among them, the South American Health Council of UNASUR. The ad hoc instances of Mercosur, meanwhile, do not seem to be sufficient to put in place an operational network of surveillance and response. Will CELAC be able to resume a path of regional cooperation able to address local and global health challenges? Will it be long before the damage caused by the withdrawing from the UNASUR health agenda is finally noticed and repaired? Regional integration in health can be a powerful epidemiological tool and act as an epidemiological shield to prevent the advance of diseases and contribute to their control. The region, with its long history of integration in health, is waiting for governments to rebuild spaces for discussion and institutional mechanisms for action.