Countries must make universal health coverage a priority: WHO

Hemani Sheth Mumbai | Updated on June 23, 2020

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) (file photo)   -  REUTERS

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday urged countries to prioritize universal health coverage in a bid to combat the global Covid-19 pandemic.

“Now more than ever, all countries must make universal health coverage a priority,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at a daily press briefing.

“It’s not a question of whether countries can afford to do this, it’s a question of whether they can afford not to,” he said.

The WHO chief expressed his concerns about the rising number of cases across the globe.

Over 1.8 lakh cases were reported to the WHO on Sunday. The global tally on Monday had surpassed 8.8 million. These cases are increasing as countries are slowly reopening their economies.

“It seems that almost every day we reach a new and grim record,” he said.

Ghebreyesus urged countries to remain vigilant and to take all necessary measures to strengthen healthcare systems in order to combat the pandemic.

“Some countries that have successfully suppressed transmission are now seeing an upswing in cases as they reopen their societies and economies. All countries are facing a delicate balance, between protecting their people, while minimizing the social and economic damage. It’s not a choice between lives and livelihoods. Countries can do both,” he said.

“We urge countries to be careful and creative in finding solutions that enable people to stay safe while getting on with their lives,” he further said.

He emphasized the importance of testing, contact tracing and isolating cases. He also hailed the recent findings on the steroid dexamethasone that has life-saving potential for critically ill Covid-19 as a “much-needed reason to celebrate.”

He further urged countries to practice solidarity in providing essential supplies for the treatment of the disease.

“Guided by solidarity, countries must work together to ensure supplies are prioritized for countries where there are large numbers of critically ill patients, and that supplies remain available to treat other diseases for which it is needed,” he said.

Published on June 23, 2020

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