WHO: Balance essential services amid COVID-19

Monday, March 30, 2020

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has published guidelines to help countries balance the demands of responding directly to COVID-19, while maintaining essential health services.

The guidelines are an effort by WHO to ensure that while health systems across the globe deal with the COVID-19 outbreak, vaccine-preventable deaths and treatable conditions are prevented.

Previous outbreaks have demonstrated that when health systems are overwhelmed, deaths due to vaccine-preventable deaths and treatable conditions increase dramatically.

“Even though we're in the midst of a crisis, essential health services must continue. Babies are still being born, vaccines must still be delivered, and people still need life-saving treatment for a range of other diseases,” said WHO Director General Tedros Ghebreyesus on Monday.

The guidelines include a set of targeted, immediate actions to reorganise and maintain access to high-quality essential health services, including routine vaccination; care during pregnancy and childbirth; treatment for infectious and non-communicable diseases and mental health conditions; blood services and more.

“That includes ensuring an adequate health workforce to deal with the many health needs other than COVID-19,” emphasised Ghebreyesus.

Scale up production of protective gear

With many countries under lockdown to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus, WHO urged governments to ensure free movement of essential health products to halt the pandemic. 

WHO called on countries to work with companies to increase production; to ensure the free movement of essential health products; and to ensure equitable distribution of those products, based on need.

“Specific attention should be given to low- and middle-income countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

“In addition, WHO is working intensively with several partners to massively increase access to life-saving products, including diagnostics, PPE, medical oxygen, ventilators and more,” said Ghebreyesus. – SAnews.gov.za


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