COVID-19 response must include ‘Health for all’
LWF joins call to world leaders to ensure that “each life is valued and every person’s right to healthcare is upheld”
(LWI) - The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) General Secretary Rev. Dr Martin Junge has joined other leaders of religious and humanitarian organizations in calling for a global ‘Health for All’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The appeal, spearheaded by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Archbishop of Canterbury’s office, calls for both equitable vaccine distribution and access to healthcare for all people, “regardless of where they live or who they are.”
The letter to world leaders, published on 24 May, notes that COVID-19 has been “a truly global crisis” with no country in the world untouched by both “individual loss and death,” as well as national “disruption to almost every part of life.” Furthermore, it has exposed and exacerbated inequalities, and “caused us to reflect on those longer injustices” in parts of the world where the pandemic “is yet another layer of misery, instability and unrest.”
The letter stresses that the fallout from the pandemic, including an economic downturn and the threat of potentially more infectious variants of the virus, “will be with us for a long time to come.” A generation of children, especially girls, it adds, have left school and will not return. The signatories note that their organizations are all rooted in local communities where they witness the resilience of people, even in the face of “immense challenges” such as conflict, disasters and famine.
Every person’s right to healthcare must be upheld
In seeking to reverse these devastating dynamics, the letter says, world leaders must commit to ‘Health for All’ “where each person’s life is valued and every person’s right to healthcare is upheld.” People need not only vaccinations for COVID-19 and other life-threatening diseases, but also access to healthcare workers who are skilled and equipped to deliver adequate medical support, it adds.
While the COVAX initiative is seeking to provide vaccines for the most vulnerable people in the lowest-income countries by the end of 2021, current statistics show that many African, Asian and Latin American nations may not achieve widespread vaccination coverage until 2023. The 'Health for All’ appeal calls on the international community to support and fund the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator which tackles the broader, more complex issues of information sharing and technology transfer.
As the pandemic has shown us, in our interdependent world, no one is safe until everyone is safe.
The letter concludes with a call to world leaders to support not only equitable vaccination rollout within and between nations, but also to see their COVID-19 response as just “one important element of a broader health strategy implemented alongside communities to bring longer-term improvements to people’s health” in all parts of the globe. The religious and humanitarian representatives reiterate that “as the pandemic has shown us, in our interdependent world, no one is safe until everyone is safe.”