For the World Health Organisation, the year 2020 stays as the most challenging as it was for the health systems of many countries. However, it has also demonstrated why, more than ever now, the world needs a strong and sustainable WHO.
Despite a most testing time defined by COVID-19 and its catastrophic human, economic and social impacts, the 2020 mid-term review shows how WHO rose to meet the challenges, in the fastest, most far-reaching response to a global emergency.
WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said “the past year has been the most testing in our Organization’s history. However, it has also demonstrated why, more than ever, the world needs a strong and sustainable WHO. Our transformation is continuing to take root and bear fruit: many of the changes we have made have been tested by fire during the past year, and have shown their worth. Already many lessons have been learned, more changes have been made, and new initiatives have been launched to strengthen the world’s pandemic preparedness and response capacities.”
In the mid-term review, the WHO says that the Covid 19 pandemic affected every community. However, the poor and marginalised were the hardest hit, which showed the global and domestic inequality.
The review also points out that Covid 19 interrupted progress towards achieving WHO’s “triple billion” targets. This was mainly because the staff were diverted to a response that mobilized the entire Organization. Apart from this, disruptions to essential health services also resulted in interruption of essential health care for millions of people. In some areas, this reversed development gains made over decades.
TRIPLE BILLION TARGET
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus noted that the world was lagging behind in its efforts to achieve the “triple billion” targets and Sustainable Development Goals even before the pandemic. “There is no doubt that the pandemic has blown us even further off course. At the same time, it has reminded us why the targets are so important, and why we must pursue them with even more determination and innovation,” he said.
The Mid-term analysis said that COVID-19 demonstrated the benefits of WHO’s transformation into an agile organization that can rapidly leverage global technical expertise and operate on a global scale.
The WHO stated that COVID-19 pandemic underscored the need for health for all. It also highlighted and exacerbated inequities in health within and between countries, especially for poor and marginalized communities, in both lives and livelihoods lost.
The review pointed out that about 3.6 billion people still lacked access to essential health services. It clearly notes that COVID 19 exposed the fragility of health systems and showed that more resilient systems must be built. The WHO maintained that a greater emphasis on PHC in health systems was key to achieving the twin goals of UHC and global health security, as well as healthier populations.
With respect to COVID 19, the WHO said that they supported training of health workers and developed indicators of the impact of the pandemic on health and care workers. Most of the regional offices developed tools for workforce surge capacity for COVID-19, such as the European Region’s Adaptt and Health Workforce Estimator.
It also said that several countries reoriented their financing and budgetary arrangements, with WHO support, to enable delivery of COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics and tests. WHO developed the Health Financing Progress Matrix for qualitative assessment of national health financing policies and their implementation at a given time as compared with benchmarks.
The WHO said that the Thirteenth Programme of Work (GPW13) would improve the health of millions of people. An Analysis showed a set back to the programme because of the challenges COVID-19 pandemic.
The WHO said that it tracked the huge disruptions in health services and supported 163 countries in assessing the impact and populations at risk
In the mid-term review, the WHO said that they responded to 52 graded emergencies other than COVID-19 in 2020. This included an outbreak of Ebola virus in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and polio in Horn of Africa. It also included acute technological disaster of Beirut Port explosion, natural disasters and complex humanitarian emergencies. The WHO Contingency Fund for Emergencies helped in rapid responses and for the continuity of essential response in 14 emergencies.
BETTER HEALTH AND WELL BEING
The WHO in the review noted that healthy environments and lifestyles could prevent half of the global burden of disease. It said that they worked for years to reduce preventable lifestyle risks such as tobacco smoking, unhealthy diets and physical inactivity, which are linked to both noncommunicable diseases and COVID-19 outcomes.
To build a greener future from the pandemic, WHO published the Manifesto for a healthy and green recovery from COVID-19.