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White House to train health care workers in Latin America

Partnerships seek to fight COVID-19, prevent future pandemics

President Joe Biden will announce a new partnership aimed at stemming the COVID-19 pandemic and future health crises in California today.
President Joe Biden will announce a new partnership aimed at stemming the COVID-19 pandemic and future health crises in California today. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra travel to Los Angeles today to participate in the Summit of the Americas, where they are expected to outline a plan to increase public health communication and surveillance in the Americas. 

The plan is part of an administration bid to step up global partnerships in order to stem further COVID-19 outbreaks and prevent future pandemics before they start, and will help other countries in the Americas prevent and prepare for public health emergencies. The administration anticipates the plan will be fully implemented by 2030.

The primary goal is to train an additional 500,000 health care workers across Latin America within the next decade in conjunction with the newly-formed Americas Health Corps. This would cost roughly $100 million, a senior administration official said. The training would be conducted by leveraging existing Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Peace Corps and Pan American Health Organization training platforms.

The U.S. also plans to work more closely with the Pan American Health Organization and the Caribbean Public Health Agency to address equity issues in the Americas regarding COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics, according to the Biden administration. 

More than 40 percent of total COVID-19 deaths globally have occurred in Latin America and the Caribbean, despite the region having only 8 percent of the world’s population, according to the White House.

The administration wants to expand the number of CDC regional offices throughout the Americas and expand USAID’s global health security program and staffing to seven countries in South America and the Caribbean. It also aims to diversify public health supply chains. 

“The Administration remains committed to advancing pandemic response and global health security and has prioritized additional activities in the Americas for this year and into the future,” the White House said in a fact sheet on the announcement.

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