This week saw the announcement of additional funding for some of the world’s poorest countries to fight COVID-19. Community health workers in India are mobilizing to support the national response, while Vietnam’s approach to the pandemic offers useful lessons for containment. Meanwhile,.
The Steering Body of the Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility (PEF) announced the allocation of US$195.84 million to 64 of the world’s poorest countries with reported cases of COVID-19. The funds will provide additional support for essential and critical lifesaving medical equipment, personal protective equipment, therapeutics and medicine, and support for health workers on the frontlines of the crisis.
In normal times, India’s million plus army of anganwadi health workers leads the country’s fight against undernutrition in local communities. Today, these women have joined the battle against COVID-19. They are now going door to door, recording people’s travel history, noting flu symptoms, and helping trace contacts.
Panic buying is an international phenomenon that threatens health systems’ ability to prevent and treat the coronavirus. Governments all over the globe are trying to secure masks, protective equipment, and ventilators while stocking up and rationing other medicines to respond to supply chain disruptions.
The pandemic brings into sharp focus two core truths. First, the premise of universal health coverage – to ensure health for all without causing financial hardship – is fundamental to making sure that everyone has access to the free-of-charge testing and treatment they need for COVID-19. Second, strong health systems are crucial in order to respond to health crises.
With not a single confirmed death from COVID-19 to date, Vietnam’s approach offers useful insights for bringing the pandemic under control. Early, decisive and transparent actions by the country’s leadership, along with the engagement and solidarity of citizens, have been key to Vietnam’s success in combatting COVID-19 to date.