UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says the coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the “utterly inadequate health systems” around the world. File Photo Photographer: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA)

Universal Health Coverage more urgent than ever, says UN

“Under-investment in health is having a devastating impact on societies and economies, undermining progress on all the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”

CAPE TOWN – UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says the coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the “utterly inadequate health systems” around the world.

Guterres said the failure to respond adequately to the outbreak is going to reverse human advancement and well-being for the first time since the UN started measuring them in 1990.

“Weak health systems and unequal access to health care are major reasons why Covid-19 has killed 1 million people and infected more than 30 million around the world. Under-investment in health is having a devastating impact on societies and economies, undermining progress on all the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” said Guterres in his video message to senior ministers.

According to the World Bank, preparedness and response measures have certainly averted even more acute and widespread deprivation, but the crisis is far from over and more action will be needed.

“In order to reverse this serious setback to development progress and poverty reduction, countries will need to prepare for a different economy post-Covid, by allowing capital, labor, skills, and innovation to move into new businesses and sectors,” said World Bank Group President David Malpass.

The Secretary-General said he hoped the meeting would “build momentum for urgent action” to transform policies and systems to deliver health and human security for all.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has reiterated that Covid-19 has eroded decades of progress towards ensuring that everyone, everywhere can get the health care they need without experiencing financial hardship. 

Investing in stronger health systems is not only crucial in responding to the coronavirus but also to protect people from future health threats and make health for all a reality.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that the pandemic has “exposed the geopolitical fault lines of our world” and strained the solidarity “so badly needed” to address the “shared global crisis”. 

 

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