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COVID-19: Commonwealth health ministers endorse zero fees for tests, treatment

Patricia Scotland,Commonwealth Secretary-General

 

By Ajuma Edwina Ogiri

In a renewed effort to tackle the coronavirus pandemic, the commonwealth health ministers have endorsed the removal of fees for coronavirus patients’ tests and treatment, especially for migrants and refugees.

The ministers also agreed to create a voluntary mechanism to share and distribute extra medical supplies, including ventilators and testing kits.

The decisions were contained in a statement released at the end of the annual Commonwealth Health Ministers Meeting.

At the meeting, ministers presented effective national strategies to address the pandemic including mass tests, trace and isolate strategy, digital tools to monitor health status and track transmission routes and a clear communication line.
“We are now participants at an inflection point in history, and how we will be seen will be determined by how we act, right now in this moment.”The virus knows no nationality, race, religion, border or economic status. It is an interconnected issue threatening our global health and world economic order, and should be dealt with as such – guided by a culture of multilateral compassion and cooperation – not competition.

“At this critical moment, invigorated by our common pain and concern, Commonwealth countries have come together to provide the salve we need to deliver a coordinated multilateral response that will help thwart the pandemic and keep our citizens safe,” Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland said.

The health ministers backed the need for unified action to recover from the economic turmoil accompanying the pandemic, while addressing critical health challenges and health systems’ vulnerability, particularly to recurring climate-related events.

They pledged to keep essential health services running for non-COVID-19 patients with a critical non-communicable or infectious disease while dealing with an influx of coronavirus cases.

In addition, they agreed to work with finance ministers to promote sustainable strategies to finance the implementation of universal health coverage with a focus on providing health care to women, the elderly, young people, marginalised persons and those with mental illness without facing financial difficulty.
The World Health Organization’s Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: “While coronavirus is an unprecedented shock to the world; through national unity and global solidarity, we can save both lives and livelihoods.”Across the Commonwealth, countries will need to balance the demands of responding directly to coronavirus, while also maintaining essential health services.”

Globally, around 4.7 million coronavirus cases have been reported; half a million of these are in the Commonwealth.

Persecondnews reports that the fast-spreading virus has contracted economies, shattered income streams and forced millions of people to stay indoors.

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