The World Health Organization has said that the Covid-19 pandemic is causing significant loss of life, disrupting livelihoods, and threatening the recent advances in health and progress towards global development goals.
According to WHO’s recently published World Health Statistics report, immunization coverage has barely increased in recent years, and there are fears that malaria gains may be reversed.
“The good news is that people around the world are living longer and healthier lives. The bad news is the rate of progress is too slow to meet the Sustainable Development Goals and will be further thrown off track by Covid-19,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.
“The pandemic highlights the urgent need for all countries to invest in strong health systems and primary health care, as the best defense against outbreaks like Covid-19, and against the many other health threats that people around the world face every day. Health systems and health security are two sides of the same coin,” he added.
According to the report, life expectancy and healthy life expectancy have increased, but unequally.
The biggest gains were reported in low-income countries, which saw life expectancy rise 21% or 11 years between 2000 and 2016 (compared with an increase of 4% or 3 years in higher income countries).
One driver of progress in lower-income countries was improved access to services to prevent and treat HIV, malaria and tuberculosis, as well as number of neglected tropical diseases such as guinea worm. Another was better maternal and child healthcare, which led to a halving of child mortality between 2000 and 2018.