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  • 9 Apr 2020 4:25 PM | Sarah Carroll (Administrator)

    In early March, the Victorian Department of Jobs, Precincts and Jobs’ Global Victoria hosted three female leaders from Latin America to celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD) and promote collaboration between the 60 international delegates that visited overall and Victorian stakeholders. 

    Claudia Bobadilla, Executive President of the Industrial Telecommunication Association in Chile and CSIRO Board Member and Juanita Rodriguez, Vice-Chancellor of Innovation at EAN University in Bogotá participated in the Global Victoria Women’s Business Summit (GVw) from 5-8 March 2020 which showcased Victoria’s world-class capabilities in STEM; Transport/Infrastructure; Sport and Medical Technology and Pharmaceuticals. Claudia learnt about the work of Monash University, CSIRO and the Australian Synchrotron in driving world-leading research, and partnership opportunities. Juanita visited the Melbourne Metro Tunnel project at Parkville and experienced first-hand the innovative and sustainable Arup engineering office in the Docklands as part of the infrastructure program. Both had the opportunity to connect with influential female leaders from women driving key medical research projects to women leading major road projects in Victoria as part of the state’s $70 billion infrastructure program. 

    Claudia Bobadilla also featured as the keynote speaker at the ALABC boardroom luncheon held on 6 March 2020 at Global Victoria’s International Chamber House which included participation by Australia’s Ambassador to Colombia and Venezuela HE Sophie Davies. Claudia shared her insights on drivers behind the recent social unrest in Chile following 40 days of being completely immersed amongst the most affected communities. A key lesson Claudia took away was the importance of companies incorporating social values in their business plans and strategies to ensure dignity for all. 

    Following GVw was the Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival (VAMFF). Dr Maria Carrasco, a leading fashion commentator in Chile and practising Psychiatrist travelled to Melbourne to attend a full program of activities during VAMFF including attending exclusive runways shows; meet and greets with Melbourne designers; visits to the RMIT design studio and fashion school LCI as well as walking through the latest exhibit at the National Gallery of Victoria.

  • 8 Apr 2020 4:29 PM | Sarah Carroll (Administrator)

    Orica boss Alberto Calderon has been charting the global spread of coronavirus on a daily basis from his deserted office in east Melbourne. 

    With operations in over 100 countries, staying a step ahead is proving no small feat. 

    "It's been crazy," Calderon tells The Weekend Australian. "Governments around the world are making decisions and the consequences could not be any bigger." The next phase will likely see governments make some tough decisions on segregation, according to Calderon. 

    As Australian corporates scramble to draw up emergency plans to deal with business shutdowns, Calderon has been focused on ensuring the explosives maker can keep operating through the market turmoil. 

    Half of Australia's mines depend on Orica to keep their production running through its supply of bulk explosives and detonator systems. 

    In recent days Calderon has spoken to his former colleague Mike Henry at BHP, Rio Tinto's Jean-Sebastien Jacques and Newcrest Mining chief Sandeep Biswas to trade the latest intelligence on the global mining market. 

    The nation's big resources players have been tracking COVID-19 closely since its emergence in China, given the country accounts for half the world's commodity demand. 

    Calderon has also been working to match up each country's official virus data with anecdotal reports from his 12,000-strong workforce scattered across the globe. Encouragingly, many of the world's major mines - including Australia's iron ore, coal and gold industries — remain open and at peak production with backing from the federal government to operate as an essential service. 

    Orica says it's critical the flow of mining exports and supply chain routes can keep trading their way through unprecedented volatility. 

    "I'm in permanent communication with our big clients. We have said to the government we understand we need to keep people safe but we also need to keep this industry open or the whole thing will collapse," Calderon said. 


    200403 AC The Australian v2 (2).pdf

  • 8 Apr 2020 4:27 PM | Sarah Carroll (Administrator)

    For political junkies in Mexico used to a president hogging the spotlight, the rise to household-name status of Hugo López-Gatell, a once-obscure health undersecretary, has been breathtaking.

    Each evening Mr López-Gatell holds a press conference in which he reveals Mexico’s daily covid-19 figures and exhorts Mexicans to stay in their homes. Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the populist president, has at times resembled Donald Trump in playing down the pandemic. So Mr López-Gatell has earned a reputation similar to that of Anthony Fauci in America: a by-the-book health bureaucrat who must contend with an unhelpful boss.

    Yet Mr López-Gatell himself is controversial. His critics fret that too little is being done. The total number of coronavirus test results that Mexico has processed until now, 11,357 as of April 4th, is roughly what the United States goes through every two hours. Like many countries, Mexico uses a sentinel model for tracking the disease, using only a few high-quality testing centres, with narrow criteria for testing eligibility. This is a reliable way to track overall trends, but it almost certainly leads to a drastic undercount of the pandemic’s true spread. Unlike in most countries, Mexico’s quarantine measures have been lax and unenforced. I interviewed Mr López-Gatell on April 3rd. Below is the transcript, lightly edited for brevity and clarity.

  • 6 Apr 2020 4:47 PM | Sarah Carroll (Administrator)

    Please visit ALABC news page to access the latests articles reporting on the current state of COVID-19 across Latin America. This collection of information includes official information from Latin American and Australia governments, health industry professionals and other reputable sources across multiple sectors. To access the information, please click on the link below.

  • 6 Apr 2020 4:44 PM | Sarah Carroll (Administrator)

    The Government is acting decisively in the national interest to support households and businesses and address the significant economic consequences of the Coronavirus.

    While the full economic effects from the virus remain uncertain, the outlook has deteriorated since the Government’s initial Economic Response announced on 12 March 2020.

    The spread of the virus worldwide has broadened, and is expected to be more prolonged. Governments, both international and domestic, have announced stricter mitigation measures to slow the spread of the virus, which are having significant economic impacts.


  • 6 Apr 2020 4:38 PM | Sarah Carroll (Administrator)

    Situation as of 5 April 2020 (14:00  EST)

    In the Region of the Americas, Turks and Caicos reported their first COVID-19 death on 4 April 2020. To date, the Island reported a total of five (5) cases including 1 confirmed death.

    In the past 24 hours, an additional 36,880 cases and 1,493 deaths were reported – a 12% (cases) and 18% (deaths) relative increase compared to the previous day. 

    For more information on the Global confirmed numbers, please click on the following links:

     PAHO Response Strategy and Donor Appeal

    PAHO has launched an Appeal to donors & partners to scale-up the capacity of the countries of the Americas to respond to COVID-19. 

    The response strategy outlined in this Appeal has two main objectives: slow down the transmission of the virus and mitigate the health impact of COVID-19 in the Region. 

    An initial US$94.8 million are needed to support critical response efforts in countries most in need of help until September 2020. 

    As this outbreak evolves, needs are likely to increase and the estimated financial requirements will be adjusted accordingly.

  • 6 Apr 2020 4:35 PM | Sarah Carroll (Administrator)

    PAHO has launched an Appeal to donors & partners to scale-up the capacity of the countries of the Americas to respond to COVID-19.

    The response strategy outlined in this Appeal has two main objectives: slow down the transmission of the virus and mitigate the health impact of COVID-19 in the Region. 

    An initial US$94.8 million are needed to support critical response efforts in countries most in need of help until September 2020.

    As this outbreak evolves, needs are likely to increase and the estimated financial requirements will be adjusted accordingly.


  • 6 Apr 2020 4:33 PM | Sarah Carroll (Administrator)

    Since the COVID-19 crisis began, air cargo has been a vital partner in delivering much-needed medicines, medical equipment (including spare parts/repair components), and in keeping global supply chains functioning for the most time-sensitive materials. 

    This has been done through dedicated cargo freighter operations, utilisation of cargo capacity in passenger aircraft, and relief flights to affected areas. 

    Click below for more information on the specific areas:

  • 25 Mar 2020 4:59 PM | Sarah Carroll (Administrator)

    As the Covid-19 pandemic spreads around the world, many Latin American and Caribbean countries continue to report new cases as governments take emergency actions in an effort to contain the virus. Among the measures, Peru and Panama have suspended classes in both private and public schools at least for a period of weeks, and countries including Argentina and El Salvador have restricted non-residents from entering. How are Latin American and Caribbean nations coping with the spread of the new coronavirus? Which practices are working best, and where have gaps been identified? Are the region’s health care systems robust enough to effectively address the pandemic, and what steps should the region’s public and private health care providers be taking next?

    María L. Ávila-Agüero, chief of the infectiology service at the National Children’s Hospital and former health minister of Costa Rica: “Since the beginning of the Covid-19 emergency, the WHO has said countries will be affected differently depending on the robustness of their public health policy and access to disease care services. Countries such as Costa Rica that have been capable of early identification of transmission chains will be able to modulate the speed of clinical cases’ presentation and community transmission—which is inevitable—which will allow health services not to be saturated and time to attend to serious cases. This virus will make many ill, but with low lethality. Strategies must be directed to ‘flattening the curve,’ which implies quarantines, the suspension of mass gatherings, emphasis on washing hands and sneeze and cough protocols; social distancing if there are respiratory symptoms; and protecting high-risk populations and older adults, with or without risk factors. Measures such as school closures are justified and based on a cost-benefit analysis. The closing of borders and restricting travel between regions has no epidemiological meaning, and its impact is minimal. Covid-19 is already in the Americas, but it cannot paralyze us. Adequate policies, taken in measure but without letting our guard down, will be essential to make it out well.”

    Andrés Rozental, member of the Advisor board and president of Rozental & Asociados in Mexico City: “Together with other countries of Western Europe, North America and Asia, Latin American nations are under a daily growing severe threat of the Covid-19 pandemic. Equally, Latin American countries in general have waited too long to take the measures that are being undertaken to prevent or mitigate the effects of the crisis. Even though the absolute numbers published by the region’s governments are relatively low when compared to China, South Korea or Italy, there are serious doubts about how accurate those statistics are when there are so few individuals being tested. The same probably holds true for countries in Africa, Eastern Europe and the Indian subcontinent. If the health care infrastructures of wealthy developed economies are proving inadequate to deal with the pandemic, there will probably be even less ability for the poorer economies to attend to the thousands of individuals who will be infected in the coming weeks and months. Even though many Latin American authorities have temporarily suspended schools, cancelled large public events and instructed citizens to take basic health measures such as washing hands, sanitizing surfaces and staying at home as much as possible, these probably won’t be enough to spare their populations from being infected and even dying. The presidents of Brazil and Mexico have been particularly poor examples of leadership in the current global crisis. Both have minimized the effects of the pandemic, continued to hold political rallies with hundreds of attendees packed in close proximity to one another, kiss babies and otherwise flaunt the basic rules of behaviour in situations such as the one that their countries are going through. Not enough people are being tested, and the medical facilities available are clearly lacking. In the case of Mexico, President López Obrador’s dismantling of the Seguro Popular that covered the millions of Mexicans not in the government’s existing social security infrastructure has led to a chaotic situation with a resulting lack of medicines and uncertainty about how to get urgent care, all of which has complicated the country’s ability to face the coronavirus pandemic.”

    Katherine Bliss, senior fellow at the CSIS Global Health Policy Center: “The number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the region continues to climb, with several countries reporting fatalities. To prevent importation of cases, Panama is prohibiting the entry of non-resident foreigners, while Honduras, Argentina and Peru have announced border closures. Costa Rica has shut down nightclubs, and Mexico’s soccer league has suspended its season. The Pan American Health Organization has prepared 29 laboratories to process diagnostic tests and deployed a tool to help hospitals analyze their readiness to receive an influx of patients. Several countries are members of the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA), a partnership promoting health emergency preparedness since 2014, but few have conducted Joint External Evaluations to assess their capacity to respond to outbreaks in line with the World Health Organization’s International Health Regulations. The NTI/Johns Hopkins University 2019 Global Health Security Index (GHSI) lists several countries in the region among the top 40 globally for disease detection but gives fewer high marks for their capacity to treat the sick and protect health workers. Colombia, with thousands of Venezuelan migrants crossing into the country each day, may find it especially challenging to prevent Covid-19 transmission among the border-area population, while Venezuela, which ranks 176 out of 195 countries on the GHSI and faces a dearth of water and basic hygiene supplies in health care facilities, may be especially ill-prepared. The deportation of migrants from the United States and Mexico to Central America also raises concerns about increased risks of disease transmission in that region.”

    Alejandro Chafuen, managing director, international, at the Acton Institute and president and founder of the Hispanic American Center for Economic Research: “Most Latin American leaders were waiting to see how the governments of the world’s most powerful economies would react to Covid-19. President Trump took the lead in restricting travel from China at the end of January. But it was not until the WHO declared it a pandemic and northern Italy was overwhelmed that Latin American policymakers began to react. Brazil and Mexico have reacted differently than the rest. In Mexico, the only difference I saw recently when arriving in Monterrey was signs telling those who had been in China and other infected countries to call a phone number if they felt sick. It is too early to see who has overreacted and who is underreacting. It is not a matter of left and right—both Bolsonaro and AMLO have been mingling with crowds, making little changes to their routines and horrifying most international observers. This despite the fact that two officials close to Bolsonaro have Covid-19. Is Latin America prepared? I doubt it, but results will vary. In most countries, people disrespect the law and are dissatisfied with their health care. Health spending in relation to GDP does not seem to matter. Brazil spends almost 12 percent of GDP on health care, and only 18 percent of its population regard the quality of the care they receive as good. Argentines spend 7.55 percent, and 58 percent regard the care as good. Mexicans spend even less, 5.47 percent, and 26 percent of the population regard the care as good. The hot weather has helped, but winter is coming.”

    Adriano Massuda, professor at FGV-EAESP in São Paulo and visiting scientist at the Harvard School of Public Health: “Public health emergencies test the resilience of health systems, demanding rapid and effective responses from national and local governments. In Brazil, the Ministry of Health has been adopting appropriate measures to address the Covid-19 pandemic, with transparency on information and clear guidelines to the population. However, the national coordination may bump on the low capacity for local implementation. Fiscal austerity policies and recent modifications in well-established health policies aggravated the fragility of public services—from primary care to hospitals. In 2019, the Unified Health System (SUS) budget lost more than 9 billion reais ($2 billion), and the lack of doctors in primary care increased after the interruption of the More Doctors program. Besides, scarcity of intensive care units, supplies and qualified personnel to manage severe cases will likely further overburden the health system. Palliative measures were adopted. Congress has approved an extraordinary credit of 5 billion reais for actions against Covid-19. The federal government urgently opened up the hiring of 5,800 doctors to work on primary care services. However, it is still too little. If the population infection rate for Covid-19 is only 1 percent (excluding users of private health plans), and 5 percent of those require treatment in intensive care units, an additional 82,000 hospitalizations will be expected in the SUS, with an estimated cost of approximately 1 billion reais. Urgent strengthening of the SUS is the most appropriate measure to protect lives from Covid-19 threats in Brazil.”


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