Ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being at all ages is essential to sustainable development. Currently, the world is facing a global health crisis unlike any other — COVID-19 is spreading human suffering, destabilizing the global economy and upending the lives of billions of people around the globe.
Before the pandemic, major progress was made in improving the health of millions of people. Significant strides were made in increasing life expectancy and reducing some of the common killers associated with child and maternal mortality. But more efforts are needed to fully eradicate a wide range of diseases and address many different persistent and emerging health issues. By focusing on providing more efficient funding of health systems, improved sanitation and hygiene, and increased access to physicians, significant progress can be made in helping to save the lives of millions.
Health emergencies such as COVID-19 pose a global risk and have shown the critical need for preparedness. The United Nations Development Programme highlighted huge disparities in countries’ abilities to cope with and recover from the COVID-19 crisis. The pandemic provides a watershed moment for health emergency preparedness and for investment in critical 21st century public services.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has been leading the global effort to tackle COVID-19. The Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan, produced by WHO and partners, outlines the public health measures that countries should take to prepare for and respond to COVID-19. The Strategy Update of April 2020 provides further guidance for the public health response to COVID-19 at national and subnational levels, and highlights the coordinated support that is required from the international community to meet the challenge of COVID-19.
People and organizations who want to help fight the pandemic and support WHO and partners can donate through the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund which supports WHO’s work to track and understand the spread of the virus, to ensure patients get the care they need and frontline workers get essential supplies and information, and to accelerate research and development of a vaccine and treatments for all who need them.
WHO, together with partners, also provides guidance and advice for people to look after their mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic — especially health workers, managers of health facilities, people who are looking after children, older adults, people in isolation and members of the public more generally.
The pandemic is much more than a health crisis. It requires a whole-of-government and whole-of-society response, matching the resolve and sacrifice of frontline health workers.