Address inequities compounded by COVID-19 to build fairer, healthier world: WHO

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New Delhi, Apr 6 (PTI) Seeking collaborative efforts to build a fairer and healthier world, the World Health Organisation has called upon the South-East Asia Region to prioritize actions to address the inequities compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic.

'COVID-19 is just the latest disease to expose, exploit and exacerbate inequities that negatively impact health and socioeconomic outcomes between and among vulnerable groups. Understanding and overcoming the many social and economic determinants of health is becoming critical in our efforts to achieve universal health coverage,” said Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia, on the eve of the World Health Day.

The ministers of health from countries in the Region and World Health Organisation (WHO) will together commit to 'building a fairer and healthier world', the theme of the World Health Day this year, at a high-level virtual event, the WHO said in a statement.

Emphasising on key measures, Singh said, “We must enhance the collection and use of timely and reliable health data that is disaggregated by gender, age, income, education, migratory status and disability among other factors.” 'Once better informed, the governments and the affected communities must work hand in hand to address the root causes of inequities and implement solutions. As we tackle the social determinants of health, countries should continue to invest more for strengthening primary health care,' she said.

'And importantly, we must act beyond national borders and strengthen regional and global health security,' she said.

The COVID-19 vaccine roll-outs are the most recent example of health equity as all countries have prioritised health and frontline workers, older persons and people with co-morbidities, in alignment with SAGE recommendations.

“Nearly 86 million people in the region have now received their first dose and more than 14 million have received both doses of the vaccine,” Singh added.