While the COVID-19 pandemic still remains as the world’s biggest health crisis, the World Health Organization says other issues also need more attention this 2021.
According to WHO chief Tedros Adnahom Ghebreyesus, the coronavirus pandemic will not be the last one of its kind, as attempts made to save humanity’s health and welfare will prove useless without discussions on animal welfare and climate change.
“WHO and its partners will be at their side. We will work to help countries strengthen preparedness for pandemics and other emergencies,” said the international body on its website.
“Above all, this pandemic has shown us over and again, that no one is safe until everyone is safe.”
WHO to Pay Attention to these Key Issues on 2021
Quick and Easy Access to COVID-19 Medicines, Tests, and Vaccines
The WHO said it would fast-track access to COVID-19 medicines, tests, and vaccines through a global collaboration program concretized last April.
“Getting effective tools to everyone who needs them will be key to ending this first, acute phase of the pandemic, and to solve the health and economic crises it has caused,” the organization added.
According to WHO, The Global Leadership Group for Antimicrobial Resistance will tackle and shed light on issues of treating and putting an end to infectious diseases and the need for more effective medicines in order to achieve that goal.
It added that it would continue to improve global monitoring and would continue to support national plans, making sure that antimicrobial resistance would be taken into consideration by health care systems around the world.
Health Care Inequities
On World Health Day, April 7, the WHO committed itself to calling for global action to address health inequities. The organization stated that it would “build on international commitments (and existing work) to advance universal health coverage and address the broader determinants of health.”
Universal health care does not only mean cheaper drug prices and access to wellness check-ups, but it also entails being provided with the right information about the medications you are taking or the medical devices you are about to use.
This has been a major concern on different lawsuits filed in relation to dangerous drugs and faulty medical devices. Lawyers of Paragard lawsuits, among others, claim that the manufacturer of the potentially defective medical device failed to warn people of its rare yet more dangerous side effects.
“We will focus on steps the health sector can take to ensure equitable access to quality health services across the continuum of care, as well as engage with other sectors to address social and environmental determinants of health,” WHO added.
Treatment of Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health Conditions
If there is one thing that the pandemic highlighted, according to the WHO, it is the vulnerability of people with noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes, cancer, and heart disease to the coronavirus.
Because of this, the health body said it would focus on screening and treatment programs for NCDs, initiate a new Global Diabetes Compact and a campaign to get around 100 million people to quit tobacco.
The WHO added it would also back efforts to widen mental health services to communities and to people residing in conflict-affected areas brought by the lockdown due to the pandemic that has caused misery and fear to people from all parts of the world.
Addressing Climate Change
“COVID-19 has been a pivotal moment in many ways, and offers a unique opportunity to build back a better, greener, healthier world,” WHO said.
Its chief also emphasized the effect of climate change on the pandemic, and how the organization moved forward with recommendations from the UNICEF and Lancet Commission for a healthier planet for the children and efforts to improve health through food and nutrition systems worldwide.
“Our Manifesto for a Healthy Recovery from COVID-19, with its goals of addressing climate change and health, reducing air pollution and improving air quality, can play a major role in making this happen.”
Strengthened Health Systems for All
The WHO said it is looking forward to working with its partners around the world in helping countries to have a more advanced health care system that will help them respond to COVID-19 in a better way and enable them to deliver all necessary health services.
The organization adds, “One of the clearest lessons has taught us is the consequences of neglecting our health systems.”
The international body is also looking at launching another global campaign, this time, with the goal of strengthening the global health workforce in 2021, which it dubbed the Year of the Health and Care Worker.
The WHO also called for unity, which it said would improve countries’ health crises and emergency preparedness.
“We will also help tackle health emergencies in humanitarian settings that have been intensified by COVID-19. We will target support to better protect the most vulnerable communities against health emergency risks, including in urban settings, small island countries, conflict settings,” it added.
Also one of the WHO’s aims is to encourage global leadership on science and data by monitoring and assessing recent scientific developments on “COVID-19 and beyond.”