UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Thursday that the COVID-19 pandemic has made the need for universal health coverage more urgent than ever.”A year ago, I warned that half the world’s people were not able to access affordable, high-quality health care. Today, the COVID-19 pandemic has shown that our health systems are inadequate,” he told a ministerial meeting held as one-year commemoration of a UN high-level meeting on universal health coverage.

“Weak health systems and unequal access to health care are major reasons why COVID-19 has killed 1 million people and infected more than 30 million around the world. Under-investment in health is having a devastating impact on societies and economies, undermining progress on all the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”COVID-19 has made the need for universal health coverage, outlined in the strong Political Declaration adopted at last year’s high-level meeting, more urgent than ever, he said in a video message.

Universal health coverage is not only essential to end the pandemic. It will also drive progress across all health-related SDGs, while strengthening the primary health systems that are fundamental to tackling non-communicable diseases. And it is the only way to prepare for future health crises, he said.The World Health Organization (WHO) reiterated that COVID-19 has eroded decades of progress towards ensuring that everyone, everywhere can get the health care they need without experiencing financial hardship.

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Investing in stronger health systems is not only crucial in responding to the coronavirus but also to protect people from future health threats and make health for all a reality.WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that the pandemic has “exposed the geopolitical fault lines of our world” and strained the solidarity “so badly needed” to address the “shared global crisis”.

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