The effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on world health stretch far beyond “the suffering caused by the virus itself,” World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during an address to member states in Geneva on Thursday.
The pandemic is affecting areas such as vaccinations for children, medication for diseases, refugee health and world hunger.
“It’s unraveling many of the gains we have made fighting some of the world’s most devastating diseases,” he said
Tedros said there are hundreds of millions of children who are at risk of missing routine vaccinations for diseases such as tuberculosis and measles. Many countries are also running low on HIV medications.
Refugees, who already face limited access to shelter, water and nutrition, he said, are among the most vulnerable.“Covid-19 could push them over the brink,” he said.
He also said that many people are now going hungry, and that poverty has become more visible during the time of the pandemic, citing estimates from the World Food Programme that global hunger could increase to more than 270 million people.
Countries are facing “a delicate balance between protecting their people and maintaining essential health services while minimizing social and economic damage and respecting human rights,” Tedros said.