Impact of Covid-19 on Access to Essential Health Care Services

Session virtual link: Digital Session, Meeting ID: 932 9780 2047

Session objectives

  1. To raise awareness on the need to maintain access to essential health care services during the COVID-19 pandemic
  2. To identify shared challenges and priority needs across essential health care services during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  3. To discuss un-met needs among vulnerable populations
  4. To support dialogue at national and international level on strategies for maintaining essential services.

Session abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted essential health care services across the globe by limiting availability, access and demand of these services. Measures put in place to limit the spread of the disease such as lockdowns are believed to have limited access to essential health care services. The supply shock brough on by transport disruptions from lockdowns and closed borders was met with a demand shock that saw the demand rise for COVID-19 medicines and infection, prevention and control (IPC) material leading to supply-chain disruptions that negatively impacted essential health care services.

Rearrangement of health care services within facilities to meet the increased demand put on the health care systems by COVID-19 patients such as the redeployment of staff to COVID-19 units further limited the availability of several essential health care services. WHO’s Pulse survey on continuity of essential health services during the pandemic found that immunization services, noncommunicable disease diagnosis and treatment, family planning and contraception, treatment for mental health disorders, antenatal care and cancer diagnosis and treatment were some of the most affected services; mobile services including public health campaigns were the most affected mode of service delivery; and elective services were cancelled or suspended in most countries.

Disruption of economic activities during the pandemic has placed financial hardships on families that utilise out-of-pocket payments, particularly in low- and middle-income countries, and this may have contributed to a reduced demand for essential health care services. It is of utmost importance that COVID-19 containment measures take into account the potential impact on essential health services, particularly among vulnerable populations.

Event Timeslots (1)

ROOM 1 SPEKE
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KEY 07

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