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No country was prepared for Covid-19: WHO flags slow pace towards universal health coverage

The World Health Organisation (WHO) in a new report said that the Covid-19 pandemic has further derailed the efforts to reach the triple billion targets and the health-related Sustainable Development Goals. The global health body said that the efforts towards getting three billion more people to benefit from Universal Health Coverage by 2030 has been slowed down following the coronavirus outbreak.

The WHO said that the pandemic has caused severe disruption to health systems, economies, and societies the world over, as well as to much of the global health body’s work to support countries advance towards the “triple billion” targets of the 13th General Programme of Work, and the health targets of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The report further noted that the global target of getting one billion people under health coverage by 2023 will not be achieved.

“The world is moving at only about one quarter of the pace needed to reach the SDG health targets by 2030,” the WHO said on Wednesday.

ALSO READ: WHO report on Covid deaths in India mischievous, says health ministry official

Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, WHO estimates suggested that 900 million more people would be enjoying better health and well-being in 2023 compared to the 2018 baseline. But the current estimates by the global health body suggest that the target will not be achieved by 2023.

“The billion target will not be reached by 2023, and progress is less than one quarter of that needed to reach the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. Current estimates suggest that without course correction, we will fall short by 730 million people of reaching 1 billion more people with universal health coverage in 2023,” the report stated.

The WHO said that the current progress reflects improvements made in access to clean household fuels, safe water and sanitation (WASH), and tobacco control. But the report added that in other areas like obesity and malnutrition, the situation is stagnant or even worsening.

HEALTH EMERGENCIES PROTECTION

The WHO said that the Covid-19 pandemic has revealed that no country is fully prepared for a pandemic of such scale.

“The Prepare indicator shows that country-level preparedness capacities have increased since the 2018 baseline. However, Covid-19 highlighted limitations in current metrics and has prompted the evolution of assessment methods and systematic processes to ensure they are more predictive, dynamic and holistic,” the report stated.

The pandemic disrupted some activities central to health emergencies protection, with the Prevent indicator showing more countries experiencing decrease in vaccine coverage for priority pathogens than in the previous year.

WHAT IS THE SOLUTION?

The WHO said that in order to achieve the health-related Sustainable Development Goals, the target needs to be almost 4 billion people reached for every 5-year period.

Highlighting key areas, the report stated that “more focus is being placed on leading indicators for premature mortality and morbidity, such as tobacco, air pollution, road injuries and obesity, which are key levers for increasing healthier lives.”

The report also brought attention to inequalities between and within countries, adding that 80 per cent of the progress in this target to date has been driven by only a handful of countries.

Additionally, equitable access, prevention strategies, and catch-up vaccination efforts must be prioritized, scaled up and accelerated so that coverage does not decline further.

ALSO READ: Times when India rejected reports of international agencies

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