• Melo Acuna

Need to fix flaws in health systems

COVID-19 provided unprecedented opportunities to fix the flaws in the health systems

MANILA - COVID-19 pandemic over the past four months affected 164,000 people across the Western Pacific Region. It was also learned around 6,600 died due to the epidemic.

In this afternoon’s World Economic Forum from Geneva, Switzerland, Dr. Takeshi Kasai, World Health Organization’s regional director for the Western Pacific Region, he said the region has averted the worst.

“We are conscious that the pandemic is far from over and countries should prepare by engaging communities and strengthening health care capacities,” he added. He explained the key to controlling the virus is to be proactively finding, isolating, tracing and imposing quarantine measures along with stringent public health approached including social distancing.

“We should recognize the socioeconomic costs of these controlled measures, especially on the most vulnerable. We are facing profound and complex challenges like hose to control the disease in our communities and at the same time bringing back our economies,” he added. However, he said until the world gets safe vaccines available, “everyone remains at risk.”

“We have to find ways how to like with this virus for now,” Dr. Kasai said. The WHO regional director said three weeks ago, he said no one size fits all to contain the pandemic because the response would depend on what each society values, “by country and by culture.”

He explained the process should not be rushed as easing restrictions too quickly will bring the resurgence of diseases again.

“It should be done in phases, based on scientific evidence and data on the local context,” Dr. Kasai added. As restrictions are eased, governments need to ensure the exists a well-functioning system that detects, isolate cases, trade and quarantine measures.

He emphasized the need to protect public health and prevention of the resurgence of infections and allow societies to remain some normality.

He explained there is no need for governments to choose between health and the economy because it is imperative to bring up both by getting the health and economic sectors together with the community to the table to bring back societies “to be able to protect themselves, their families and everyone including the vulnerable.”

“We are in this together and we can only get out of this together,” he said.

The WHO-Western Pacific region has 27 countries with existing programs and collaboration from China to Australia and New Zealand to Fiji and Malaysia. (Melo M. Acuña)

Dr. Takeshi Kasai, WHO Regional Director for Western Pacific. (Screen grab from WEF-WHO Briefing on COVID-19)

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