Protecting and Promoting Systems for Essential Health Services During Rollout of COVID-19 Tools

18th May 2021
Author: Kerry Millington

Abstract The COVID-19 pandemic has had a tremendous negative impact on economies of most countries around the world. COVID-19 has disrupted the ability of health systems to deliver on essential health services and has also exposed pre-existing vulnerabilities and inequities in public health systems. According to a key informant survey conducted by WHO, over one year into the COVID-19 pandemic, there still exist substantial disruptions to essential health services. This rapid review examines evidence on successful interventions that could enable adaptive approaches to help manage and respond future pandemics and mitigate the risk of collapse of the public health systems. Countries must use the opportunity provided by the deployment of COVID-19 vaccines to strengthen health services and health systems and find long-lasting solutions for similar future challenges. The review notes that there still exist gaps in preparedness and response to the Covid-19 pandemic. New variants of concern threaten the effectiveness of existing COVID-19 vaccines, vaccine hesitancy slowing rollout, including in Africa, and interrupted and limited supply of COVID-19 tools. More funding is required though to scale up adaptive measures which are working, accelerating new approaches and innovations to improve service delivery. This review also highlights briefly the plight of marginalised social groups, people living with disabilities, women and children during the pandemic. According to estimates by Global Fund, Gavi, Global Financing Facility, access to life-saving health interventions for women, children and adolescents in 36 of the world’s poorest countries has dropped by as much as 25% due to COVID-19. Countries must build on the momentum of health innovations during the COVID-19 crisis to build more resilient health systems that can withstand disruptions by future pandemics.

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Suggested Citation

Millington, K.A. (2021). Protecting and promoting systems for essential health services during rollout of COVID-19 tools. K4D Helpdesk Report. Institute of Development Studies. DOI: 10.19088/K4D.2021.084


18th May 2021


Continent: Global