In the year 2020, we witnessed unprecedented times, with health systems, economies, and livelihoods worldwide devastated by the Covid-19 pandemic with close to 79 million confirmed cases and over 1.8 million deaths worldwide (December 2020). Public health experts have declared this pandemic as the worst pandemic of the century.
In the past 12 months, we have realized the widespread disruptions that infectious diseases can cause in an increasingly interconnected world, and that “No one is safe until everyone is safe”. In 2021, the international community must come together to ensure that there are adequate support and continued worldwide cooperation, and coordinated action towards pandemic recovery efforts and availability of Covid-19 vaccines and therapeutics.
The UN High-level Advisory Board (HLAB) on Economic and Social Affairs has called upon governments to “build back better, greener and fairer after COVID-19” in rebuilding economies for Covid-19 recovery.
To ensure that everyone in the world is safe, that health systems recover from the effects of the pandemic, and that we improve preparedness for future pandemics, the World Health Organization has issued a list of global health issues for prioritization by governments and the international community in 2021. These include:
1. Enhanced health security for emergency preparedness
2. Ensure systems are in place for accelerated access to Covid-19 tests, medicines, and vaccines
3. Strengthen health systems for universal health coverage
4. Address health inequalities and other barriers to health care access, especially for the most vulnerable
5. Invest in technology and information systems to monitor and evaluate progress towards targets
6. Continued efforts towards communicable disease control
7. Tackle the emerging threat of antimicrobial resistance
8. Strengthen programs to prevent and control Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) and mental health conditions
9. Focus Covid-19 recovery efforts towards addressing climate change and health, reducing air pollution, and improving air quality
10. Act in solidarity to build national capacities worldwide to fight Covid-19 and future pandemics.
“A global pandemic requires a world effort to end it – none of us will be safe until everyone is safe” – Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, September 2020.