Covid-19 impact seen far beyond the health sector: WHO Director

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on September 10, 2020

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus   -  REUTERS

The member countries of the World Health Organisation (WTO) resolved to collectively fight Covid-19 and strengthen the response against the pandemic with better-equipped health systems to deliver essential health services during the pandemic, as per the WHO’s official release.

WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement: “The spread of Covid-19 has impacted almost every community, overwhelmed health systems and disrupted economies and livelihoods with effects reaching far beyond the health sector.

He added: “It has also disproportionately impacted the most vulnerable. WHO recently surveyed countries to understand better the priorities in the South East Asia Region. At the top of the agenda is maintaining essential health services.”

Signing the Declaration on ‘Collective Response to Covid-19’ along with Ministers of Health and representatives of member countries, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia Region, Dr. Poonam Khetrapal Singh, said: “People’s ordinary health needs do not disappear during such extraordinary events.”

She added: “Health security is not only about building capacity to prevent, prepare for and respond to acute events. It must also be about building capacity to maintain essential health services for the duration of response and into the recovery.”

The Declaration was signed at the end of a ministerial round table on the second and last day of the seventy-third regional committee session, hosted by Thailand, and held virtually for the first time ever due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The session called for efforts to ensure countries sustain essential health services and public health programs during public health emergencies. It also urged the member countries to use the current pandemic as an opportunity to build back their health systems to be better.

The member countries agreed to the allocation of adequate budgets to ensure uninterrupted services during and beyond the pandemic while prioritizing the health of the people.

With health workers playing a crucial role in the pandemic, member countries pledged to ensure occupational health, safety, and well-being of health professionals and other related workers.

Speaking to Health Ministers of the 11 Member States, Dr. Khetrapal Singh said: “Continued efforts should be made to keep health workers safe from infection and violence and to provide mental health and psychosocial support.”

All countries in the region agreed to fully engage in the global discussion on equitable allocation of vaccines, medicines, and diagnostics for Covid-19.

Published on September 10, 2020

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