UN calls for universal health coverage without delay

United Nations (United States) (AFP) –


United Nations chief Antonio Guterres said Wednesday that the coronavirus pandemic had shown that countries must increase efforts to provide universal health care coverage without delay.

"We must all draw the hard lessons of this crisis," the UN Secretary-General said in a video message.

"One of those lessons is that under investment in health can have a devastating impact on societies and economies," he added.

Universal health coverage is one of the UN's sustainable development goals for 2030.

But Guterres said the pandemic, which has killed more than one million people worldwide, had shown that greater urgency was needed.

"We cannot wait 10 years. We need universal health coverage, including mental health coverage, now."

In a report containing recommendations, the UN said all individuals and communities should receive "the health services they need without undue financial hardship."

The report added that health care should be provided despite the costs incurred.

"(It) is challenging during an economic recession, but COVID-19 has shown that effective epidemic control benefits the economy," the UN said.

The body also stressed the need to "massively expand access to new rapid diagnostics and treatments and ensure future Covid-19 vaccines are a global public good with equitable access for everyone everywhere."