UN / GUTERRES UNIVERSAL HEALTH COVERAGE

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06-Oct-2020 00:03:37
“The world was not prepared” for the COVID-19 pandemic, the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Wednesday launching his policy brief called “COVID-19 and Universal Health Coverage” and added that one of the lessons from the crisis is that “under-investment in health can have a devastating impact on societies and economies.” UNIFEED

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STORY: UN / GUTERRES UNIVERSAL HEALTH COVERAGE
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LANGUAGE: ENGLISH /NATS

DATELINE: 6 OCTOBER 2020, NEW YORK CITY

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1. Exterior shot, UN Headquarters

6 OCTOBER 2020, NEW YORK CITY

2 SOUNDBITE (English) Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations:
“Nine months since we first heard of COVID-19, the pandemic has claimed more than one million lives and infected more than 30 million people in 190 countries. Infections are rising and there are troubling signs of new waves. Much about the virus remains unknown. But one basic fact is clear: the world was not prepared. The pandemic has revealed utterly inadequate health systems, yawning gaps in social protection, and major structural inequalities within and between countries. We must all draw the hard lessons of this crisis.

One of those lessons is that under-investment in health can have a devastating impact on societies and economies.

The pandemic is costing the global economy USD 375 billion a month. Some 500 million jobs have been lost so far. Human development is going into reverse, for the first time since we started measuring it in 1990.

COVID-19 has shown that Universal Health Coverage, strong public health systems and emergency preparedness are essential to communities, to economies, to everyone.
That is the backdrop to the Policy Brief we are launching today.

At least half the world’s people do not have access to the health services they need. Some 100 million people are driven into poverty each year by catastrophic healthcare costs.

This huge gap in health coverage is one reason why COVID-19 has caused so much pain and suffering.

Universal Health Coverage requires governments to step up investment in common goods for health, including surveillance and risk communication, so that the world never faces such a situation again. It also requires public health programmes to be inclusive and equitable, without financial barriers. Health treatment should not depend on financial status.

All countries have agreed to work towards Universal Health Coverage as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

But we cannot wait 10 years. We need Universal Health Coverage, including mental health coverage, now, to strengthen efforts against the pandemic and prepare for future crises.

That is just one of the five major recommendations in this policy brief.

The second is to control further transmission of COVID-19 through proven public health measures and a coordinated global response.

The third recommendation is to protect delivery of other health services during the pandemic. COVID-19 is indirectly killing people with heart disease and cancer, as well as those it infects. And access to mental health services and sexual and reproductive health programmes cannot be compromised.

Fourth, we need to ensure everyone, everywhere has access to future COVID-19 vaccines, tests and treatment. Funding the groundbreaking ACT-Accelerator is the fastest way to end the pandemic.

And fifth, we must strengthen preparedness. That means involving all sectors of society and investing in alert systems that trigger action by health authorities.

Pandemic preparedness and response are global public goods that require large-scale investments.

Universal Health Coverage comes at a cost. But the price is cheap, when we consider the alternative.

I urge all to speed up and scale up investment in Universal Health Coverage and in stronger health systems, starting immediately.”

RECENT

3. Exterior shot, UN Headquarters

STORYLINE:

“The world was not prepared” for the COVID-19 pandemic, the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Wednesday launching his policy brief called “COVID-19 and Universal Health Coverage” and added that one of the lessons from the crisis is that “under-investment in health can have a devastating impact on societies and economies.”

“Nine months since we first heard of COVID-19, the pandemic has claimed more than one million lives and infected more than 30 million people in 190 countries. Infections are rising and there are troubling signs of new waves,” Guterres said in his brief.

“The pandemic is costing the global economy USD 375 billion a month. Some 500 million jobs have been lost so far. Human development is going into reverse, for the first time since we started measuring it in 1990,” he said. “COVID-19 has shown that Universal Health Coverage, strong public health systems and emergency preparedness are essential to communities, to economies, to everyone.”

Universal health coverage is defined as a situation where all individuals and communities receive the health services they need without undue financial hardship.

However, at least half of the world’s population still do not have full coverage of essential health services and over 800 million people spend at least 10 per cent of their household budgets to pay for health, according to the WHO.

“This huge gap in health coverage is one reason why COVID-19 has caused so much pain and suffering,” Guterres said.

The Secretary-General explained that Universal Health Coverage “requires governments to step up investment in common goods for health, including surveillance and risk communication, so that the world never faces such a situation again.”
“It also requires public health programmes to be inclusive and equitable, without financial barriers. Health treatment should not depend on financial status,” he added.

In his policy brief Guterres five major recommendations in order “to strengthen efforts against the pandemic and prepare for future crises,” the first of them being working towards achieving Universal Health Coverage as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, to which all countries already agreed to.

Other recommendations include the “control further transmission of COVID-19 through proven public health measures and a coordinated global response,” as well as protecting “delivery of other health services during the pandemic,”

“COVID-19 is indirectly killing people with heart disease and cancer, as well as those it infects. And access to mental health services and sexual and reproductive health programmes cannot be compromised,” Secretary-General said.

The last two recommendations are to “ensure everyone, everywhere has access to future COVID-19 vaccines, tests and treatment and strengthening preparedness by “involving all sectors of society and investing in alert systems that trigger action by health authorities.”

“Universal Health Coverage comes at a cost. But the price is cheap, when we consider the alternative,” Guterres said, urging all “to speed up and scale up investment in Universal Health Coverage and in stronger health systems, starting immediately.”
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