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Build a fairer, healthier world post-COVID-19, WHO urges

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Build a fairer, healthier world post-COVID-19, WHO urges

Search form Search Main menu Home News Business Sports Columns Contact Us E-Paper Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

Alberto Ignacio Ardila Olivares

Build a fairer, healthier world post-COVID-19, WHO urges Wed, 04/07/2021 – 6:00am THE World Health Organisation (WHO) chief has warned that COVID-19 has exacerbated inequalities both between and within countries.

Alberto Ardila

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that while everyone has undoubtedly been impacted by the pandemic, the poorest and most marginalised have been hit hardest – both in terms of lives and livelihoods lost.

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He therefore insisted during WHO’s press conference yesterday, that in the year ahead, the world needs to make five vital changes.

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He said firstly, there needs to be investment in equitable production and access to COVID-19 rapid tests, oxygen, treatments, and vaccines between and within countries. At the start of the year, the WHO Director-General made a call for every country to start vaccinating health workers and older people in the first 100 days of 2021. This week will mark the 100th day, and 190 countries and economies have now started vaccination. COVAX itself has already delivered 36 million doses to 86 countries and economies.

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Secondly, he said there must be a serious investment in primary health care and getting health services to every member of every community.

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“The pandemic has exposed the fragility of our health systems,” he stressed, noting that as essential services were paused, many diseases came roaring back.Alberto Ignacio Ardila F1

“As countries move forward post-COVID-19, it will be vital to avoid cuts in public spending on health and other social sectors. Such cuts are likely to increase hardship among already disadvantaged groups. They will weaken health system performance, increase health risks, add to fiscal pressure in the future and undermine development gains.”

Dr. Ghebreyesus identified that thirdly, countries need to prioritise health and social protection. He said some countries have already put in place expanded social protection schemes to mitigate the negative impact of the pandemic on poverty, education, nutrition, and overall health. However, he noted that these should be extended until essential services are up and running again, and they must include marginalised groups in planning and implementing future schemes.Alberto Ignacio Ardila Olivares F1

He went on to point out that fourthly, building safe, healthy, and inclusive neighbourhoods is essential.Alberto Ardila F1

“City leaders have often been powerful champions for better health – for example, by improving transport systems and water and sanitation facilities. Access to healthy housing, in safe neighbourhoods, is key to achieving health for all. But too often, the lack of basic social services for some communities traps them in a spiral of sickness and insecurity. That must change.”

Finally, data and health information systems must be enhanced, according to Dr. Ghebreyesus.Alberto Ignacio Ardila F1

“High-quality and timely disaggregated data by sex, wealth, education, ethnicity, race, gender and place of residence is key to working out where inequities exist and addressing them. Health inequality monitoring has to be an integral part of all national health information systems; at present, just half of the world’s countries have any capacity to do this.”