On behalf of Global Neurocare, Mehila Zebenigus, MD, and James C. Johnston, MD, JD, delivered a presentation at the United Nations ECOSOC High Level Segment on the 7-16 July 2020. The topic of discussion was entitled Accelerated Action and Transformative Pathways: Realizing the decade of action and delivery for sustainable development.
Drs. Johnston and Zebenigus discussed the novel coronavirus that originated in Wuhan, China, and rapidly evolved into a pandemic after China failed to provide timely notification of the human to human transmission.
In recognizing that this pandemic has infected millions, caused hundreds of thousands of deaths, wreaked economic devastation, closed travel and trade, and created global shortages of food and medical equipment, there is no question that a global, comprehensive, multifaceted approach is necessary to provide immediate patient care, and intermediate and long-term global health security, which will necessitate strengthening public health capacity and advancing scientific technology to develop new diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines.
However, Drs. Zebenigus and Johnston noted with deep concern that addressing this pandemic may divert healthcare funding and support from ongoing programs, potentially derailing decades of progress, significantly impacting the least developed nations of sub-Saharan Africa. This may lead to a resurgence of infectious and noncommunicable diseases, and increase maternal, neonatal and childhood mortality.
The reversal of past gains in the developing regions would force millions of people into poverty, leading to increased vulnerability, marginalization and exclusion, further destabilizing global health security.
It is imperative to secure well-directed funding focused on establishing self-sufficient and sustainable training programs to advance the recruitment, development, training and retention of healthcare workers in these precarious regions, in parallel with funding to effectively manage the ongoing pandemic.
As directors of Global Neurocare, Dr. James C Johnston and Dr. Mehila Zebenigus called upon the High Level Segment to endorse their recommendations, thereby ensuring an integrated, multilateral, multifaceted, cross sector approach to improving health care access in the least developed regions, thus promoting a broad crosscutting impact directly or indirectly across the Sustainable Development Goals.