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COVID-19 straining health systems in many countries - WHO chief

World Health Organization
World Health Organization
GENEVA, March 30 (KUNA) -- Coronavirus pandemic is straining health systems in many countries, World Health Organization Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Monday, but with solidarity, humility and assuming "the best of each other, we can - and will - overcome this together." Dr. Ghebreyesus, in an online news conference in Geneva, said rapidly increasing demand on health facilities and health workers threatened to leave some health systems overstretched and unable to operate effectively.
"Previous outbreaks have demonstrated that when health systems are overwhelmed, deaths due to vaccine-preventable and treatable conditions increase dramatically," he said.
Even though the world was in the midst of a crisis, he added, 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," he added.
WHO, said Ghebreyesus, has published guidelines to help countries balance the demands of responding directly to COVID-19, while maintaining essential health services.
This includes a set of targeted, immediate actions to reorganize and maintain access to high-quality essential health services, including routine vaccination; care during pregnancy and childbirth; treatment for infectious and noncommunicable diseases and mental health conditions; blood services, among other things.
Ghebreyesus called on governments to join hands with companies to increase production 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, he said.
Ghebreyesus said WHO received more than USD 622 million out of USD 675 million to fund how to prepare and respond to COVID-19.
"COVID-19 is reminding us how vulnerable we are, how connected we are and how dependent we are on each other," he said. (end) ta.bs