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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 4/6/21

Unless we end inequities, we will fail to achieve Health For All

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Till the time inequity remains hardwired, we cannot deliver on Health For All
Till the time inequity remains hardwired, we cannot deliver on Health For All
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"Everyone is trying to apply the human rights lens. But unfortunately on key matters of equity, a lot many communities right now are in the rear-view mirror and not being observed through the lens of equity and human rights. This pandemic is uneven around the world and uneven in its impact. It has peeled away the bandages from old wounds of our society and it has also revealed and driven new equities. We are not doing a good job in ensuring that the basic human rights approaches are being upheld- right to access to health, right to personal dignity. In some cases Covid-19 has been used as a means of denying people their rights. Yes, we have seen great examples of community resilience and people and CSOs coming together in solidarity to fight this epidemic. But, if we are to give grades on how we are doing in leaving no one behind right now we get an F" said Dr Michael Ryan, Executive Director of the World Health Organization (WHO) Health Emergencies Programme, who also leads the team responsible for international containment and treatment of Covid-19.

World in lockdown, development on hold (CPDE report)
World in lockdown, development on hold (CPDE report)
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Dr Ryan was delivering his keynote address at the launch of the important report- "World in Lockdown, Development on Hold: A special CPDE report on the (in)effectiveness of the Covid-19 response". Justin Kilcullen, Co-Chair of CPDE (CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness) moderated this global report launch and an insightful session on Covid-19 and its impact on implementing the effectiveness agenda at country level, and whether pandemic responses are respecting the effective development cooperation principle on country ownership, respectively.

closing the gate after the horse has bolted

"It is almost like closing the gate after the horse has bolted. Addressing endemic inequity that is already in place would have been much easier to avoid it in the first place. We failed to prepare for this pandemic. We failed to invest in community resilience, we failed to invest in the surveillance systems, production systems, technology transfers. We knew the pandemic was coming, and we really have been caught in the headlights of the pandemic. And even after 16 months into the tragedy we are still struggling to deal with it, and still struggling to come up with a comprehensive and a coherent response at every level - at community level, national and global level. Many of the issues that matter in terms of human rights - we have seen health systems disrupted beyond the images of ICUs - TB services, HIV services, immunization services, health services for women and girls, we have seen a rise in gender-based violence, we have seen hunger emerge in places where we never thought we will see it as a risk. Communities and individuals are facing risks that go well beyond Covid-19 - the risk to their jobs, mental health, children's education.. What we have witnessed is an absence of societal cohesion, societal investment, and societal fairness, that goes back decades and decades. This is not a civilization that is ready to deal with a universal pandemic or emergency of any kind" said Dr Michael Ryan.

is there an easy way out of the pandemic?

Ryan reflected that "Working our way out of it is not easy because there are deep inequities that are built deep into the system - hardwired - and we cannot deal with those directly right now. We need to remember them, and we better not forget. But if we are to work our way out of this right now - with all those inequities in mind - the single greatest inequity in coming weeks is that the older and more vulnerable people with underlying conditions and health workers are continuing to die in countries that do not have access to vaccine. As we roll out vaccines in hundreds of millions to perfectly healthy adults in mainly industrialized countries, we have got to fix that, or we have no right to try to fix other things. We have no mandate to fix those other things. And the world should wake up to the reality that we are about to preside over massive global injustice. If there is one thing we can do as a symbol for the future, if there is one thing that will give us all is the right to speak about inequity - we work together to fix that today."

risk of dying of Covid-19 is pre-determined by our health history

"If we look at health systems as a whole and if we look at how health systems are connected globally clearly the impact of this pandemic has been avoidable. If we are going to avoid this in future, stronger public health systems would be needed with a strong community focus. Right now our greatest chance of dying from Covid-19 is not necessarily related to the treatment we receive or the variant, but our outcome of Covid-19 is pre-determined by our health history - whether we have hypertension, diabetes (or other conditions associated with Covid-19 serious outcomes) - whether you have years and years of badly managed underlying health conditions, this is the single most predictive and prognostic markers of whether you will die from Covid-19" said Ryan.

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