File photo: AFP
UNITED NATIONS, Oct. 7 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday called on governments to invest more in universal health coverage.
COVID-19 has shown that universal health coverage, strong public health systems and emergency preparedness are essential, he said in a video message for the launch of his policy brief on COVID-19 and universal health coverage.
Universal health coverage, according to Guterres, requires governments to step up investment in common goods for health, including surveillance and risk communication, so that the world never faces such a situation again.
It requires public health programs to be inclusive and equitable, without financial barriers. Health treatment should not depend on financial status, he said.
He also asked for efforts to control the further transmission of COVID-19 through proven public health measures and a coordinated global response, and to protect the delivery of other health services during the pandemic.
He stressed the need to ensure access to future COVID-19 vaccines, tests and treatment, and said funding the groundbreaking ACT-Accelerator, a global collaboration led by the World Health Organization for such purposes, is the fastest way to end the pandemic.
Guterres also asked for the strengthening of preparedness. Pandemic preparedness and response are global public goods that require large-scale investments, he said.
"Universal health coverage comes at a cost. But the price is cheap, when we consider the alternative," he said. "I urge all to speed up and scale up investment in universal health coverage and in stronger health systems, starting immediately."