Live Session 3: Health Systems and COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the fragility of health systems in almost every country around the world. It has made many people more aware of the importance of robust and resilient health care systems. It has also put the issue high on the political agenda. How can we encourage governments and major donors to keep focus on this area when the pandemic is over – particularly in low- and middle-income countries where resources are limited? Can we do more to collaborate health care professionals to achieve our mission and harness people’s awareness of the impact of their actions on health care systems? This session was facilitated by Corrine Vibert of the Eastern Alliance for Safe and Sustainable Transport.

Watch the recording

Watch the session on our YouTube Channel here:

Read the summary

Key outcome

COVID-19 response can be a model for advocacy for road safety: the principles of prevention are the same.

Key opportunity for NGOs

Focus on advocacy for health interventions that benefit the majority, such as universal access to emergency care rather than specific interventions that benefit only a few.

Key points
  • COVID-19 is exposing weakest parts of health systems e.g. in Kyrgyzstan there are insufficient doctors due to economic pressures and they are getting infected with the virus. Trauma care is particularly affected.
  • Restrictions due to COVID-19 are making other health services inaccessible in some countries and people are dying due to non-COVID-19 illnesses.  
  • COVID-19 is highlighting social and equality issues that are leading to health problems. For example people in Uganda cannot adhere to guidelines and restrictions if they have no food.
  • There are huge gaps on health system data that could be used to inform health services and the most effective ways to reduce health burdens
  • Now is an opportunity to promote prevention: COVID management is similar to other diseases including non-communicable diseases (NCDs) – the main difference is the epidemiology. Promotion of NCDs is poor – they are leading killers but there is no funding. We need to attract attention from donors and politicians. 
Strategy for NGOs
  • COVID-19 shows us that prevention is acceptable to politicians and the community: It takes the whole world to bring one virus to a stop- can borrow this message and adapt it for road safety.
  • We must push for measures that build an equitable system: there has been a lot of focus in Uganda on ICU beds that help the minority but bigger gains can be made by building up frontline capacity for the majority and making sure that everyone has a basic level of care before addressing the specialized.
  • Communities and businesses want to help, for example, buying and donating ambulances. Point them in the most effective direction. 
  • Road safety can piggyback on other areas of the health system
  • Build capacity for frontline workers

About the panel

Olive Kobusingye, Senior Research Fellow, Makerere University School of Public Health, Uganda, and Institute for Social and Health Sciences, University of South Africa 

Pryanka Relan, Technical Officer, COVID-19 Health Systems & Services Response Team and COVID-19 Clinical Response Team, WHO

Erkin Checheibaev, former Deputy Minister for Health, Kyrgyzstan

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