HEALTHCARE

Fast-track health SDG, drawing lessons from Covid-19 response

We are learning more about Covid-19 and the response day by day.

In Summary

• We are learning more about Covid-19 and the response day by day. Learning and adapting are central to the success and agility of health systems.

• One of the main lessons is that human rights-based approaches and community engagement must be at the centre of any pandemic response 

FACELIFT: One of the wards at KNH
FACELIFT: One of the wards at KNH
Image: FILE

The Covid-19 crisis has damaged economies, weakened health systems, and left progress towards all the sustainable development goals adrift, including goal three on health. It has hit the poor and most vulnerable the hardest.

Government leaders at regional, national, and sub-national levels found themselves in challenging situations, under-prepared, under-resourced, and have had the responsibility to move fast based on developing and uncertain information.

We are learning more about Covid-19 and the response day by day. Learning and adapting are central to the success and agility of health systems. One of the main lessons learned from the Covid-19 response is that human rights-based approaches and community engagement must be at the centre of any pandemic response and any other health intervention. This is what the Alma-Ata Declaration of 1978 on primary healthcare underpins. Overly restrictive responses, especially those that do not take the lived realities of the populace into account, can prove to be counterproductive and undermine trust rather than support compliance.

The pandemic has also taught that building a fairer and healthier society requires strong political leadership that is bold, consistent, inclusive, and driven by scientific evidence. These are indicators for effective leadership in health interventions, at all levels. In Kenya, willingness to allocate sufficient financial resources is one important test of health leadership at national and county levels.

National and County Health Budget Analysis Fiscal Year 2018-19 indicates the proportion of the combined discretionary public budget allocated to health as  9.2 per cent, falling far below the 2001 Abuja declaration target of 15 per cent. The result of this is a weak health system.

African leaders affirmed the need for more local investments in our health systems, including the manufacturing of vaccines and other essentials commodities.

Speaking during the "Africa’s vaccine manufacturing virtual conference"  President Paul Kagame of Rwanda said Africa must move from feeling sorry of ourselves to something we can do. He took note of the huge gap of vaccine distribution between Africa and other regions.

The virus has presented an opportunity for us to reimagine our systems of health and make them fairer and healthier for everyone. It has emphasised on effective management of diseases from planning, implementation, to evaluation.

We must ensure the coordination and meaningful engagement of all sectors, governmental and societal, and affected population, to ensure coherent, synergistic approaches that  respond and meet the needs of people, leaving no one behind.

Dollarman Fatinato is a project assistant at the Centre for the Study of Adolescence