The World Health Organization and the United Nations Children's Fund have signed a new agreement to accelerate public health efforts in the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The new “Strategic Collaboration Framework," signed on Friday, puts the most marginalized and vulnerable first and prioritizes four areas: universal health coverage; mental health and psychosocial wellbeing and development; public health emergencies; and maternal and child nutrition.
In the fight against COVID-19, universal healthcare has been found to be key to a strong response, according to Dorit Nitzan, WHO’s European Region Health Emergencies coordinator.
“Every person in the country has to have access to quality and continuous health services, from public health to primary care, to emergency care, to hospital care and rehabilitation. Israel has those values; it is part of the country,” she said.
In addition to the above framework, WHO and UNICEF also signed a 10-year “Joint Programme on Mental Health and Psychosocial Well-being and Development of Children and Adolescents” out of concern over the increase in depression and suicide among young people.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed huge gaps in accessing health, well-being and nutrition services among children and vulnerable populations,” said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF executive director. “There has never been a more urgent need to work together. This new framework will help us strengthen health and food systems, and invest in mental health and psychosocial support in every country in the world.”
WHO and UNICEF are already working together to stop the COVID-19 pandemic and to ensure that every woman and child has access to essential healthcare services during this time. They are also joined in efforts to support countries working to develop and manufacture COVID-19 vaccines under the vaccines pillar of the “Access to COVID-19 Tools – Accelerator” initiative.