Missing pieces of the Global Health puzzle in the war against COVID-19

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This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Behnaz Rahati is a 5th-year medical student from the Golestan University of Medicine, Iran. She is affiliated with the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


The world of 2020 is drastically different; The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic particularly caught off guard healthcare systems worldwide. It was accepted that COVID-19 originated in an animal, probably a bat, which crossed over to humankind.

The One Health approach supports improving coordination, collaboration, and communication at the human-animal-environment interface to address shared health threats such as zoonotic diseases, antimicrobial resistance, food safety, and others (1).

 The direction of our common future can be changed through a global health agenda with this approach. No country can overcome this pandemic alone. Global solidarity is not only a moral imperative; it is in everyone’s interests. First, the SDGs must be modified to speak as a way to achievement about One Health.

Aspects of One Health were included in multiple SDGs such as SDG 1 (no poverty), SDG 2 (zero hunger), SDG 17 (partnerships for the goals) attaining the SDGs will require coordination of efforts and collaboration with all partners, especially the private sector. In SDG17 it is discussed that a successful development agenda requires inclusive partnerships at the global, regional, national, and local levels. Strong international cooperation is needed now more than ever to ensure that countries have the means to recover from the pandemic, build back better and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (2).

As we have seen, some countries found it in contrast to their cultural backgrounds and refused to accept it. The influence of the SDGs on health is needed to act at the community level. Because they are embedded in and closely connected to local communities, Global issues need to tangibly translate to local awareness in determining local healthcare policies. Most developing countries do not have sufficient domestic resources to fund adequate COVID-19 response. International cooperation and external finance are crucial.

 In addition, A Primary Health Care approach promotes multisectoral action on the determinants of health and on the key subjects that involve all sectors. Therefore, primary and community care needs to be reinforced to play a more vital role in the relation between individual health and the other factors that affect health system outcomes. This can take us a step further in achieving Universal health coverage (3).

There is an essential need for public health policies with an intersectoral and global perspective acknowledging the Effect of the one health approach and the need to act at the community level.

Finally, training the next generation to know the importance of one health approach can leads to leaders who can develop a more comprehensive Global Health. These goals need to be included in the highest level of Global Health medical schools and universities curriculum.

Eventually, there is a high probability that other communicable diseases will emerge as the next epidemic or pandemic. We hope that these talking points garner attention and encourage discussion on how to move forward and better prepare for future public health emergencies.

References

1.Kevin Q, Julie G, Nielsen LR, Sandra B, De Meneghi D, Martin H, Jakob Z, Simon R, Barbara H, Richard K. Roadmap to a One Health Agenda 2030.

2.https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/globalpartnerships/

3. World Health Organization. (‎2018)‎. Primary health care as an enabler for “ending the epidemics” of high-impact communicable diseases. World Health Organization (2).

About the author

Behnaz Rahati is a 5th-year medical student from the Golestan University of Medicine and a member of the Medical Students Iranian Association (a member of (IFMSA)). She is an ex-local officer of The Standing Committee on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights and current Local president of Golestan Medical Students’ Associations /GouMSA. She is interested in public health, gender equity, art, traveling and is eager to discover the world of new ideas, perspectives and experiences, participate in social events and strive to progress and help make the world a better place for everyone.

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