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UNICEF USA surveyed three global experts in health: Manisha Biinge (Managing Director for Global Networks and Partnerships for Rockefeller Foundation’s Pandemic Prevention Institute); Abou Kazoo (Director for Health for UNICEF Global Programs); and Lauren Moore (Vice President for Global Community Impact at Johnson & Johnson) to assess the past 2 years and highlight areas for improvement.

How can we prevent this pandemic returning?

ABOU KAMPO UNICEF

UNICEF supports the Covid-19 response. It is crucial to develop a comprehensive, gender-responsive Covid-19 response. It should be focused on children, their families, as well as their communities.

 

Increasing preparedness is crucial to adapting to changing environments in public health and strengthening response capabilities.

 

A mother brings her child with her to San Julian Sonsonate, El Salvador, for routine checks. Care for Child Development, a UNICEF program for Latin America and the Caribbean, organises this.

(c) UNICEF/UN0499578/SEGOVIA PRAD

UNICEF is a global organisation with a wealth and depth of experience. This adds to the World Health Organisation’s mandate of providing medical and public health interventions in close coordination with UNICEF.

However, in the case of pandemics or disease outbreaks, the global healthcare system cannot be as strong or flexible as its weakest link. All stakeholders must work together, including governments and humanitarian agencies.

Countries with high levels of debt are more likely to have flexibility in funding. Countries that provide technical, financial and human resources for countries in need of them all benefit.

MANISHA INGE (RF).Strengthening medical services and disease surveillance systems is a crucial first step in building a global integrated picture about epidemics and translating it into trusted local communications that can guide actions.

The industry of health data is complex. However, there are significant gaps and challenges. This can cause distrust in the public authorities involved in public health, particularly for those living in vulnerable communities.

Backbone investments were made in order to increase the reach and scale of data inputs and drive new analyses.

This moment requires bold action and innovative thinking. It will allow stakeholders to take the necessary actions to prevent future public health crises.

What does the Pandemic mean for equitable healthcare access and services in times of public health emergencies?

ABOU KAMPO UNICEF This is in everyone’s best interest and scientifically sound.

The pandemic taught us that holistic responses are essential.

More than 23 million children worldwide were denied essential vaccinations in 2020. This is also important in an emergency situation. It will help prevent future outbreaks and better prepare you for the future.

Sustainable development requires investments in health and well-being. Lower health expenditures than $150 per capita will not allow countries to close the immunisation gap or reach the Sustainable Development Goals.

It is vital to invest in health systems. However, it is just as important to have political will. Real improvements can be expected in the quality and accessibility of health services.

Why frontline workers are so important for strengthening the health system.

LAUREN MOORE, J&J. LAUREN MOORE (J&J). The most important link between communities, health systems and their frontline workers is made up of nurses, midwives, and community workers. This has led to new and ongoing problems, as well as the need for urgent solutions.

To provide high-quality and accessible healthcare to the masses, health workers must be empowered.

Priya Devi, a 25-year-old mother, receives advice from Bhavna De (left), an Accredited Healthcare Activist (ASHA) about caring for her newborn in Varanasi.

(c) UNICEF/UN0564156/BHARDWAJ

Ministers of Health work with us to integrate community health workers into our health system. We also support midwifery education. The Resilience Collaboration was established to increase learning and promote the adoption of evidence-based strategies that build resilience for global health workers.

J&J also invests through other channels to transformative ideas. Social entrepreneurs are those who are motivated by business and have social impact goals.

Which data-driven strategies can be used to fight pandemics and strengthen the health system?

MANISHA BINGE (RF). Pandemics have demonstrated the importance of planning ahead and early detection.

We need to improve our data infrastructure so that we can quickly detect, prevent and characterise diseases.

Similar to the above, data from frontline healthcare workers can be used. These data are not automatically collected by smartphones or other participatory monitor devices.

Decision-makers (local governments and business leaders, as well as community leaders) are left without the timely information they need to understand pandemic risks, take fast decisions, allocate resources where they are most needed, and make informed decisions. Ineffective communication and trust are also factors that can complicate the situation.

There is ample evidence to support the role of digital technology in recovery efforts and the maintenance of vital services during lockdowns.

One example of this is the national lockdown that was implemented during the pandemic. It led to a significant exodus in Indian migrant labour. UNICEF and Rockefeller Foundation were also partners in this country’s collaboration. This helps reduce vulnerability and control the spread.

Learn more about these partners

J&J: Since January 2020, the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies has committed 500 million to culturally competent and quality care. These investments were guided by the perspectives and experiences of those who are at the forefront in care: midwives, nurses and community health workers, entrepreneurs, partners, and colleagues creating models for culturally competent healthcare. This includes socially-conscious, business-led innovations that have social impact goals. J&J leverages its unique role in global health systems to increase diversity in clinical trials, support culturally-appropriate care models, and create a new generation of doctors and nurses. Johnson & Johnson Impact Ventures provides funding for social entrepreneurs through the Johnson & Johnson Foundation. This grants funding is available to companies that have a mission of improving access to quality healthcare.

Rockefeller Foundation. Rockefeller Foundation, 2021. This institute was established in response to the Rockefeller Foundation’s efforts to harness digital technology to improve healthcare. The Pandemic Prevention Institute was established by Rockefeller Foundation in 2021. It aims to eliminate health system bottlenecks at community level.

UNICEF: UNICEF was there to respond to the pandemic’s impact from its inception. They provide vital medical supplies and PPE for children so that they can get routine vaccinations and other essential healthcare. UNICEF helps ensure that children’s education is not interrupted.

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