News Release

From Health Affairs: Limits of relying on subnational policies in Latin America

Peer-Reviewed Publication

Health Affairs

Latin America has been one of the regions in the world most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic: while only home to 8 percent of the global population, it accounts for more than 30 percent of all COVID-19 deaths as of mid-May 2021. To better understand the impact of nonpharmaceutical interventions in the COVID-19 response within regions of several Latin American countries, Felicia Marie Knaul and Michael Touchton of the University of Miami, and coauthors from throughout Latin America, examine subnational data for Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, and Peru. For public health measures such as school closures, work and event cancellations, and the use of face masks, the authors found high variation in how such measures were adopted within Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico, but documented centralized national policies in Bolivia, Chile, and Peru. In this first national study to cover daily, subnational policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, the authors observe that subnational responses cannot replace national policy and conclude that governments should focus on evidence-based national policies while coordinating with subnational governments to tailor local responses to changing local conditions.


Health Affairs is the leading peer-reviewed journal at the intersection of health, health care, and policy. Published monthly by Project HOPE, the journal is available in print and online. Late-breaking content is also found through, Health Affairs Today, and Health Affairs Sunday Update.

Stay Up To Date With Health AffairsCOVID-19 Resource Center: We’ve gathered blogs and journal articles, along with relevant content from our journal archive: lessons from previous pandemics, including school closures during the Spanish flu; public health preparedness; and communicating risk.

Project HOPE is a global health and humanitarian relief organization that places power in the hands of local health care workers to save lives across the globe. Project HOPE has published Health Affairs since 1981. 

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