The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the vulnerabilities of global and national health systems. Already-struggling healthcare systems have shifted their resources to the pandemic response, which has exacerbated the burden on people with non-communicable diseases (NCDs) by delaying and disrupting their diagnosis, treatment and care.
As the pandemic appears to be in transition, now is the optimal moment to reflect on lessons learned: developing countries have reacted rapidly to NCD management challenges by increasing health service provision and strengthening medicine supplies in response to the multifaceted knock-on effects of COVID-19. The report examines how, with thoughtful planning and careful implementation, some of these rapid responses can, and should, be made permanent to improve the equity, accessibility, quality, efficiency and resilience of health systems.
To achieve progress and the goal of universal health coverage, we must reflect openly and honestly on the lessons learned so that gaps can be identified and new priorities set. We need to move towards a people-centred integrated care model and create an ecosystem where digital and technological advancement can be integrated into each patient’s journey and into primary care institutions to improve access and quality of care. Taking an ecosystem approach will require global public and private collaboration. Only by doing so can we save lives, reduce health system burdens and collectively achieve SDG Target 3.4.