It has already donated 20 million euros to date and will continue bolstering its aid program in the medium-term, with a view to taking advantage of this crisis in order to help improve the living conditions and the sustainability of these economies once the pandemic has ended.
The pandemic is advancing throughout South America, at varying rates in each country, with the severity reflected by the data: the region now has over one million people infected, and Brazil is already the second most affected country, only behind the United States. This is a “worrying, intense” situation in the words of the WHO’s chief emergency officer, as the contagion has yet to plateau. This crisis is the greatest economic and social challenge the region has faced in recent history and, to withstand its impact, all possible cooperation is required. In general, the lockdown measures have been less severe than elsewhere, with high levels of mobility resulting in increased transmission rates and a larger immunized population than in Europe, where confirmed infections are finally on the decline.
As soon as the contingency plans were activated to protect the health of employees and collaborators, and continue providing essential services to our clients all over the world, MAPFRE was determined to ensure all subsequent decisions were imbued with the values of solidarity, cooperation and assisting the most vulnerable.
Much remains to be done in the medium term, including fiscal reforms and measures to increase the resilience of the Latin American economies. Making progress on education and digitization will be essential, as will other aspects, such as developing a greater presence of private insurance — an excellent compensation mechanism which enhances the quality of life for citizens — as the MAPFRE Chairman and CEO, Antonio Huertas, stressed recently.
Reacting to essential needs
As of today, Fundación MAPFRE has allocated 20 million euros — a major part of its 35 million euro international aid package — directly to the region to support the general population, particularly the most vulnerable, and research into COVID-19. In total, the MAPFRE group has contributed over 200 million euros worldwide to combat this coronavirus. However, this contribution goes much further, boosted by the work of our volunteers, who redouble our commitment and solidarity with those most in need.
At the time of writing, not only Brazil, Peru and Chile, but also Ecuador, Mexico, Panama, the Dominican Republic and Colombia are among the worst affected countries. At the end of June, the World Health Organization (WHO) still considered Latin America the new “red zone” of coronavirus transmissions, after the region accounted for over half of all active cases detected around the world, and pinpointed Brazil as the focal point. Three million euros have been allocated to Brazil, one of MAPFRE’s strategic countries, together with Spain and the USA, and a particularly complex scenario given its geographical extension and level of inequality.
It is crucial to safeguard the real heroes in this pandemic — our healthcare personnel — and to provide them with essential equipment, but our contribution has sought to deal with a whole range of issues in the right measure, possible thanks to the experience of MAPFRE and its Foundation. The aid has gone straight to the crux of the matter, seeking to alleviate some of the pressure on national health systems, focusing on the intensive care units in large hospital complexes in the capital cities or those hardest hit, and reinforcing protective measures in elderly care homes and for the fire and emergency services.
In Nicaragua, for example, in addition to medical equipment and material, food supplements were acquired for care homes; one of Uruguay’s foremost medical centers — Hospital Español — was able to acquire a latest-generation CAT scanner thanks to Foundation funds; and, thanks to an alliance in Paraguay, healthcare personnel are being transferred to hospital centers on board safe vehicles, through an initiative aimed at reducing their stress levels and increasing the protection of these “heroes in white”.
In Mexico, in addition to the Foundation’s donation of one million euros, the Mexican Association of Insurance Institutions (AMIS), to which MAPFRE belongs, created the Health Sector Support Solidarity Coverage to protect the relatives of healthcare workers. Moreover, effective volunteering programs were promoted; one example is A Friendly Voice, which offers a free, 24-hour psychological help hotline for healthcare personnel, among other groups. In Spain, the mobilization of resources, volunteers and aid was complemented by free medical video consultation and chat services, with the precision and safety guaranteed by the Savia digital health platform.
Ecuador was the first country in LATAM to receive these prototype respirator units and diagnostic kits. Thereafter, all countries, through their respective Foundation representatives, have been receiving deliveries of these or other materials.
“We institutions were called upon to act firmly and decisively against COVID-19. We addressed the urgent need to protect the healthcare professionals who are caring for us, so that they can continue performing this essential role,” is how Julio Domingo, Fundación MAPFRE general manager, summarized the logic underpinning the whole aid program.
And all this time, at an internal organizational level, the safety of workers has been the number one priority. With 34,000 group employees worldwide, most of whom are located in Latin America, the company and its Foundation are delaying the return of workers to their work centers in these countries, whenever the protocols so advise.
An opportunity for sustainable reconstruction
According to the forecasts of study services such as MAPFRE Economics and international organizations such as the IMF, World Bank, ECLAC, etc., the hardest-hit emerging economies will be those in Latin America. Antonio Huertas is of the view that taking advantage of the crisis to do things better, ensuring sustainable growth in the region and achieving an overall improvement in living conditions is of paramount importance.
The region has sufficient natural resources to maintain the cleanest energy matrix on the planet, but it requires sustainable growth to meet the demands of its citizens. According to the report An Innovative, Sustainable Energy Transition in Latin America, by the Latin American Business Foundation, governments should focus on mitigating the health impacts of COVID-19 and then aim at rebuilding the productive capital of their economies. And, it is now that the opportunity arises for reconstruction to drive an innovative, sustainable transition.
From MAPFRE, we assume our part in achieving this sustainable development. The concrete commitments are set forth in our 2019-2021 Sustainability Plan and reflect a reality the group has believed in for the last 90 years: the will to build a better future and leave a positive mark.
More united than ever to this region
“What we now need to keep an eye on are our sister countries on the other side of the Atlantic,” said Antonio Huertas, Chairman and CEO of MAPFRE, on June 26, in a video shared through its social networks and especially aimed at its employees. “Sadly, the virus is still spreading faster in some countries than in others. Peru and Chile are going through their most complicated moment, still far from the absolute figures of Brazil and Mexico on the continent, which, given their size, have not yet reached a high level of criticality. Colombia, Ecuador and Argentina are also seeing a significant increase in infections. Central America is still on the rise,” he stated. Undoubtedly a very difficult situation, although the medical services have managed to organize themselves and be better able to receive healthcare aid such as that sent from our Foundation to bolster the local capabilities. The hospital saturation level has not been reached, but the infection curve must be continuously monitored. It is hard to ask citizens to keep calm and be patient, and even more complicated to remind people used to spending a lot of their time out and about earning a living that they must stay at home. It is time for government, social organizations, businesses and all citizens to assume their responsibilities, act correctly, and thus help us all. Antonio Huertas recalled the importance of institutions like the Foundation collaborating with programs to mitigate the impact of the crisis, and he appealed to the responsibility of citizens to do whatever they can to help and to take care of themselves. “It’s the moment of truth for Latin America, for everyone to assume their responsibilities, including those of us who work there.” The foremost Spanish enterprises like MAPFRE are highly committed to this great region.