NAO partners with World Bank on review of COVID-19 responses in Latin American and Caribbean countries

January 7, 2021

In collaboration with partners from the World Bank and the Korea-World Bank Partnership Facility, the North American Observatory on Health Systems and Policies (NAO) examined COVID-19 policy interventions in ten Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) countries and compared them to the response in South Korea and Uruguay.

The LAC region accounts for about 20% of the world’s total cases and over a quarter of the total deaths from the COVID-19 pandemic as of January 2021. [1] Countries have introduced several public health, health system and economic policies to reduce the spread and impacts of COVID-19.

There was specific focus on three domains: (1) emergency preparedness and response governance, (2) timeliness and stringency of measures, and (3) health care sector responses. Data from the Oxford COVID-19 Government Response Tracker database, countries’ governments website, media releases, and Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) COVID-19 Situation Reports were compiled up to August 2020. COVID-19 measures for these domains in LAC countries (Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Panama, Paraguay, and Trinidad and Tobago) were compared against two comparator countries (Uruguay and South Korea) that have evidence of effectively managing the pandemic as of October 2020

Victoria Haldane, NAO Research Assistant and IHPME PhD Candidate

The study highlighted the variety of measures countries employed to flatten the curve and reduce transmission of COVID-19 while supporting communities and the economy. While all ten study countries introduced several public health and economics measures that were as stringent as in Uruguay and South Korea, they introduced more limited and delayed measures for income and self-isolation supports than in the two comparator countries.

“For me, this project underscores the importance of comparative health systems research,” said Victoria Haldane, NAO Research Assistant and IHPME PhD Candidate. “While Uruguay and South Korea were our comparators for their COVID-19 response, there were important lessons to be learned, and strategies to be shared, from each country we reviewed.”

Margaret Jamieson, NAO Research Assistant and IHPME PhD Candidate

The study identifies key country responses that could improve the outcomes of COVID-19 and enhance preparedness for future pandemics in the region. “There were so many different aspects about the responses to the COVID-19 pandemic that we learned about; it wasn’t all about whether masks were mandatory, but also about food security and income support,” said Margaret Jamieson, NAO Research Assistant and IHPME PhD Candidate.

Mariana Morales Vazquez, NAO Research Assistant and IHPME PhD Candidate

“It was fascinating to learn about the complexity of governments’ response to COVID-19 and how the characteristics of each of the countries in our study make their response unique.” said Mariana Morales Vazquez, NAO Research Assistant and IHPME PhD Candidate.

“The research team at NAO delivered rigorous and meaningful analysis to a dozen countries by working closely with World Bank staff and government counterparts to understand their contexts, compare and contrast their policy response and derive practical recommendations that are proving useful as governments face an acceleration of infections in early 2021” said Jeremy Veillard, Senior Health Specialist at the World Bank and Assistant Professor at IHPME.