Stopping the next health epidemic by strengthening primary care

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Mobile clinic in Liberia. Photo File: UNMEER/Simon Ruf

Improving and measuring basic healthcare delivery is vital to prevent future global epidemics, said the billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates on Saturday.

He was speaking at the launch of a new partnership with the United Nations designed to more effectively deliver and chart the progress of primary health care around the world.

Matthew Wells reports.

On the side-lines of the Sustainable Development Summit at UN headquarters in New York, a range of world leaders and health experts joined Bill and Melinda Gates to launch a new partnership designed to save millions of lives.

Failures in primary health care and the ability to measure performance, was one of the reasons why the Ebola outbreak in West Africa span out of control, into a global epidemic, the event heard.

The Primary Health Care Performance Initiative will partner with another German-sponsored initiative called the "Roadmap: Healthy Systems, Healthy Lives," to help vulnerable countries improve preventative care, and bolster especially women and children's health.

Mr Gates said global epidemics were avoidable, if we all get the basics right:

"We're not talking about some complex science, like inventing a new vaccine but we are talking about something where the execution has to take place everywhere in the world. When primary health care doesn't work you get a breakdown where the mother who's come a long distance to bring their child there, sees that they're not getting what the need, and next time they don't make the effort to come in." 20"

The partnership is designed to help countries reach the ambitious targets outlined in the recently-adopted Sustainable Development Goals, which include halving the number of current child deaths by 2030.

Matthew Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 1’17″

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