WHO: Coronavirus pandemic is much more than a health crisis
“More than 1 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 have now been reported to WHO, including more than 50,000 deaths, said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in his opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19
“But we know that this is much more than a health crisis. We are all aware of the profound social and economic consequences of the pandemic,” he noted.
Stating that the restrictions many countries have put in place to protect health are taking a heavy toll on the income of individuals and families, and the economies of communities and nations, he said: ”We are in a shared struggle to protect both lives and livelihoods.In the short term, countries can ease the burden on their populations through social welfare programs to ensure people have food and other life essentials. For some countries, debt relief is essential to enable them to take care of their people and avoid economic collapse. This is an area of cooperation between WHO, the IMF and the World Bank.”
“But ultimately, the best way for countries to end restrictions and ease their economic effects is to attack the virus, with the aggressive and comprehensive package of measures that we have spoken about many times before: find, test, isolate and treat every case, and trace every contact.”
“If countries rush to lift restrictions too quickly, the virus could resurge and the economic impact could be even more severe and prolonged, “he warned, adding that financing the health response is therefore an essential investment not just in saving lives, but in the longer-term social and economic recovery.
He went on to say: “There are three main areas for countries to focus on. First, we call on all countries to ensure core public health measures are fully funded, including case-finding, testing, contact tracing, collecting data, and communication and information campaigns. Second, we also call on countries and partners to strengthen the foundations of health systems. That means health workers must be paid their salaries, and health facilities need a reliable supply of funding to purchase essential medical supplies. Third, we call on all countries to remove financial barriers to care.”
“If people delay or forego care because they can’t afford it, they not only harm themselves, they make the pandemic harder to control and put society at risk,” he highlighted.