By Joe Garvey

Dr. Fernando Llorca Castro, Costa Rica's ambassador to the United States, will discuss his country's response to the COVID-19 pandemic during a Provost's Lecture Series webinar hosted by Old Dominion University on Nov. 13.

The event, which is free and open to the public, begins at 1:30 p.m. Click here to register.

"We are very pleased provide the ODU and larger Hampton Roads communities with the opportunity to hear Dr. Llorca discuss this international crisis," said Austin Agho, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs. "His insights will be invaluable as we continue to grapple with the health, economic and other impacts of the pandemic."

Costa Rica, which has a population of 4.9 million, has had 112,000 COVID cases and 1,149 deaths as of Nov. 3, according to the U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica.

Llorca, who was appointed as ambassador in 2018 by President Carlos Alvarado Quesada, has served the country in various capacities and has professional experience in health policy and medical practice as well as coordination of primary and secondary care in Costa Rica. He also has experience as medical director and manager in Spain and disability analyst for the Department of Work and Pensions in the United Kingdom.

In 2014, he was appointed by ex-President Luis Guillermo Solís Rivera as the deputy minister of health, shortly thereafter becoming the minister and the steward of the Health, Nutrition and Sports Sector in Costa Rica, where he established private and public safety regulations and best practices policies.

Amid the crisis of the largest public pension system in Costa Rica, he became executive president of the Costa Rican Social Security Fund, the most important health-care provider in the region that manages an annual budget of over $6.5 billion.

Llorca is a graduate of medicine at the University of Medical Sciences and holds a master's in health economics from the University Pompeu Fabra. He also holds a master's in economic policy from Complutense University of Madrid and a master's in policy and health planning from the London School of Economics. He was trained in Costa Rica as a medical doctor and has had full license to practice medicine in Costa Rica, Spain and the United Kingdom.

"Dr. Llorca is an internationally recognized expert," said Giovanna Genard, assistant vice president for strategic communication and marketing. "This first-time visit by an ambassador from Costa Rica is a tremendous opportunity for our students and Hampton Roads citizens to learn how one of our global neighbors is dealing with the crisis."

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