Countries have to rebuild health systems when government revenues are under pressure: WHO regional director

Kathmandu [Nepal]: As the five-day Regional Committee meeting of the WHO South-East Asia Region began on Monday, Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, regional director of World Health Organization South-East Asia emphasised that countries have to rebuild their health systems at a time when government revenues are under pressure.
“COVID-19 has taken a massive toll on our health systems. Services have been disrupted and health care workers are exhausted. Our challenge is multi-faceted, we have to regain lost ground in terms of health outcomes, rebuild health systems that have lost capacity and we have to do this at a time when government revenues in all countries will be under intense pressure,” said Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh. WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that he was pleased to see a decline in COVID-19 cases and deaths in the South-East Asia region.
“The COVID-19 pandemic continues to take a heavy toll on lives, livelihoods, societies and economies. I am pleased to see a decline in cases and deaths in the South-East Asia region, following the devastating surge in May of this year,” Dr Ghebreyesus said in a statement.
“However, the situation varies widely from country to country and place to place, with steep increases and overwhelmed hospitals in some areas. We must never again allow a pandemic on this scale. And that we must never again allow an injustice on this scale,” he added.
“This Session is convened to take important decisions on improving the health status of the people in this region at a time our health systems are overstretched to cater essential health services to the needy people. Let’s ensure equitable access to vaccines, medicines, tools and technologies for the sake of humanity. Reaching out to the unreached should be our priority,” said the Prime Minister of Nepal, Sher Bahadur Deuba, while inaugurating the annual governing body meeting of WHO in the Region.
The five-day virtual session, attended by Health Ministers and senior health officials of the Member Countries of the Region, UN Agencies, partners, donors, and civil society representatives, will deliberate on strengthening public health emergency preparedness and response and accelerating progress for prevention and control of non-communicable diseases, among others health issues.
A ministerial roundtable is planned tomorrow on ‘building back better’ the essential health services, hit by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, with the aim to achieve universal health coverage.
Other key issues to be discussed are the regional framework for a vaccine action plan, revitalizing school health, and ending viral hepatitis, HIV and STIs.

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