Pandemic pushing 500M people into extreme poverty - reports

The COVID-19 pandemic is pushing over half a billion people into extreme poverty, the worst economic disaster since the 1930s, the World Health Organization and the World Bank said on Sunday, News.Az reports citing Anadolu Agency.

The findings are contained in two reports published on Universal Health Coverage Day, which illustrate the disastrous impact of COVID-19 on people's capacity to get and pay for health care.

The pandemic is likely to halt two decades of global progress towards universal health coverage, triggering declining immunizations and increased tuberculosis and malaria deaths, the global health body said.

The new evidence compiled with the World Bank reveals that more than half a billion people are being pushed into extreme poverty because they must pay for health services out of their own pockets, the WHO raised alarm.

"The pandemic also triggered the worst economic crisis since the 1930s, making it increasingly difficult for people to pay for care," said the WHO.

"All governments must immediately resume and accelerate efforts to ensure every one of their citizens can access health services without fear of the financial consequences," said WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus.

"This means strengthening public spending on health and social support and increasing their focus on primary healthcare systems that can provide essential care close to home."

Tedros said before the pandemic, many countries made progress, but the world needs to build health systems strong enough to withstand shocks, such as the next pandemic, and move to universal health coverage.

In 2020, COVID-19 disrupted health services and stretched countries' health systems beyond their limits as they struggled to deal with the pandemic’s impact.

As a result, immunization coverage dropped for the first time in 10 years, and deaths from tuberculosis and malaria increased.


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