The global COVID-19 response has been unprecedented, but it has also been deeply fragmented and inequitable around the world. While high-income countries are now taking steps to reach the next normal, low- and middle-income countries continue to face devastating losses. This is especially visible in Latin America and the Caribbean, where more than 65 million cases and 1.6 million deaths have been reported since the start of the pandemic. In fact, in the first two months of 2022, the Americas accounted for 63% of worldwide cases despite making up just 13% of the population.

Throughout the region, overburdened health systems, political and economic instability, and insufficient resources have stacked the cards against vulnerable communities. The poor and marginalized bear the brunt of COVID-19’s impact. People living in dense neighborhoods, for example, are particularly at risk of infection, while those in isolated areas like the Amazon Basin have limited access to care. All these factors have hampered COVID responses, threatening the health, livelihoods, and ultimately the lives of people in low-income communities.

Seeing this health crisis unfold in Latin America and the Caribbean, The Rockefeller Foundation made the region a priority geography in our pandemic response. We focused our efforts on smart testing and tracing, which provide decision-makers with essential information needed to implement adaptable, scalable, and equitable response strategies.

Data is an especially important tool in health, allowing us to spot and track health trends and pinpoint gaps in care. Unfortunately, however, data collection is still inconsistent in many countries. Working with partners in regions affected by health disparities, the Foundation leveraged existing relationships with governments, institutions, and communities to develop a three-pronged testing strategy that would generate the data needed for an effective and sustainable COVID-19 response.

Read the full article about equitable COVID-19 response by Emilia Carrera and Mia Scott at The Rockefeller Foundation.