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Post-COVID-19: WHO urges countries to invest in health facilities

The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Wednesday emphasised the need for countries to invest more in health facilities and services to build a healthier post-COVID-19 world.

WHO in a statement issued from its headquarters in Geneva to commemorate the World Health Day (WHD) bemoaned the devastating impact of COVID on millions of lives.

WHD is a global health awareness day celebrated every year on April 7, under the sponsorship of the WHO, as well as other related organisations.

According to the statement, COVID-19 has unfairly impacted some people more harshly than others, exacerbating existing inequities in health and welfare within and between countries.

The UN health agency stated that within countries, illness and death from the COVID-19 pandemic had been higher among groups who face discrimination, poverty, social exclusion, and adverse daily living and working conditions – including humanitarian crises.

“The pandemic is estimated to have driven between 119 and 124 million more people into extreme poverty last year. And there is convincing evidence that it has widened gender gaps in employment, with women exiting the labour force in greater numbers than men over the past 12 months.

“These inequities in people’s living conditions, health services, and access to power, money and resources are long-standing. The result: under-five mortality rates among children from the poorest households are double than that of children from the richest households.

“Life expectancy for people in low-income countries is 16 years lower than for people in high-income countries. For example, nine out of 10 deaths globally from cervical cancer occur in low- and middle-income countries.

“But as countries continue to fight the pandemic, a unique opportunity emerges to build back better for a fairer, healthier world by implementing existing commitments, resolutions, and agreements while also making new and bold commitments’’.

The statement quoted Tedros Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general, as lamenting that “COVID-19 has thrived amid the inequalities in our societies and the gaps in our health systems.”

The DG said it was, therefore, vital for all governments to invest in strengthening their health services and to remove the barriers that prevent people from using them, so that more people have the chance to live healthy lives.

“Now is the time to invest in health as a motor of development. We do not need to choose between improving public health, building sustainable societies, ensuring food security and adequate nutrition, tackling climate change, and having thriving local economies. All these vital outcomes go hand in hand,” he added.

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