United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres launched the United Nations Policy Brief on COVID-19 and Universal Health Coverage on October 7. The report states that the world is now at a critical juncture of the COVID-19 pandemic. After some initial success in suppressing transmission, many countries are now experiencing a resurgence after easing of restrictions.
With the flu season approaching in some part of the world, and with cases and hospitalizations increasing, many countries find themselves struggling to strike the right balance between protecting public health, protecting personal liberties and keeping their economies going. With universal health coverage in place, countries could more effectively and efficiently address the three ways in which the COVID-19 crisis is directly and indirectly causing morbidity and mortality: the first is due to the virus itself, the second is due to the inability of health systems to provide ongoing essential health services, and the third is linked to its socioeconomic impact.
The report mentions that longer term, pandemic preparedness and response can be seen as a global public good with commensurate global and national-level investments. It requires a standardized outbreak alert system linked to concrete actions by national and local health authorities.
Launching the report, Secretary-General António Guterres called on everyone to draw “hard lessons” from the pandemic, for which the world was not prepared. “COVID-19 has shown that universal health coverage, strong public health systems and emergency preparedness are essential to communities, to economies, to everyone,” he highlighted.