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  • President of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, Luis Arce, gives a press conference with information related to the prevention of Covid-19. December 31, 2020.

    President of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, Luis Arce, gives a press conference with information related to the prevention of Covid-19. December 31, 2020. | Photo: Agencia Boliviana de Información

Published 31 December 2020
Opinion

The socialist economist turned President says there have been positive results from the use of traditional medicine.

Bolivia’s government is encouraging the use of traditional medicine, in addition to more orthodox approaches, as a means to prevent the spread of COVID-19 as the country prepares for the arrival of the Sputnik V vaccine acquired from Russia.

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President Luis Arce noted the benefits reported by Bolivians in rural areas, many of which experienced no major COVID-19 outbreak, in contrast with the city of Santa Cruz and La Paz where authorities continue to focus efforts to combat the spread.

“We ask the population to continue the prevention work, and add to what was mentioned by the Minister of Health, not only abide by the orthodox recommended prevention standards, but also use our traditional medicine to confront and take precautions to avoid contagion between Bolivians. We have seen in practice that social organizations, especially in rural areas, have resorted to traditional medicine and that it has given results and therefore it becomes an element that Bolivians cannot ignore, and that has to be incorporated within the protocol and that we are asking our Ministry of Health to clearly say which are those traditional medicines so that all Bolivians in the east, west, north and south of the country can share these medicines that have given results that have served prevention and that will continue to be useful for the care of the population,” said President Arce.

The President was speaking at a press conference on Thursday, where the government announced the arrival of 40,000 nasal antigen tests. Another batch will arrive at the end of January, another 150,000 tests, through an agreement and donation with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). The nasal antigen test will be used to detect the coronavirus in asymptomatic people, in order to provide them with the necessary care so that they don’t require intensive therapy. The test allows results to be obtained in less than 45 minutes.

Earlier this week, the government announced the acquisition of 5,200,000 doses of the Russian Sputnik-V vaccine with batches scheduled to arrive beginning in January. The vaccination will be free and voluntary, and were purchased at a unit price of USD $9.50 according to Minister of Health Edgar Pozo. 

Additionally, negotiations are still underway with pharmaceutical companies in countries such as India, China and the United States in order to acquire additional doses, aimed at guaranteeing subsequent supplies of vaccines in case an annual vaccination is required.

This was confirmed by the Vice Minister of Foreign Trade, Benjamin Blanco, who spoke of the efforts to ensure the product 

"We have not stopped and continue working with all the pharmaceutical companies to reach agreements that will allow us to complete a greater number of doses. It is likely that the vaccine should not only be administered (once), but every year. These negotiations and everything we are working towards will also serve us for the next steps," he explained in Bolivia Tv.

Meanwhile, the President of the Plurinational State noted the role of Bolivia’s nationalized airline BoA for its efforts to transport tests and vaccines. The airline was in the process of being privatized by the US-backed coup regime of Jeanine Anez, having been neglected like many other state industries during the year-long dictatorship.

“We must highlight the participation of our state company Boliviana de Aviación (BoA) which has been in charge of transporting the tests and will continue to do so, because we even want it to bring the vaccines. And this company of ours, instead of being a company that was bankrupt, a company destined to perish, today retakes its rightful place, the place that we had given it as Boliviana de Aviación and provides services to the population, and today it is made available to the Bolivian people as it always should have been,” said President Arce.

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