Combatting Inequalities in Health Access Amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic: OSC’s Integral Health Approach

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As the world continues to grapple with the multifaceted challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Organisation of Southern Cooperation (OSC) underscores the urgent need to address the inequalities in access to public health in the Global South. COVID-19 has not only highlighted the vulnerabilities and injustices prevalent in contemporary societies but has also exposed the structural dysfunction and inadequacy of international systems in responding effectively to such crises.

The pandemic has exacerbated existing disparities in access to healthcare, education, and essential services, particularly in regions already burdened by poverty and limited resources. With over 5 million lives lost globally according to World O Meter, the pandemic has plunged millions into sanitary, economic, social, and psychological distress, disproportionately affecting marginalised communities.

Moreover, the economic fallout of the pandemic was especially severe in emerging economies where income losses caused by the pandemic revealed and worsened some pre-existing economic fragilities. The pandemic revealed the ill-preparedness of many households and firms to withstand an income shock of that scale and duration according to the World Bank.

In countries of the Global South, where resources are already scarce, the impact of the pandemic has been particularly devastating. School closures have affected over 1.5 billion learners, exacerbating educational inequalities, while limited access to technology and the internet has widened the digital divide, further marginalising vulnerable populations.

Integral health, which recognises the interdependence of human, veterinary, and environmental health, offers a holistic approach to addressing these challenges. By addressing inequalities in healthcare access, promoting education and awareness, and addressing social determinants of health, we can build more resilient and equitable healthcare systems.

OSC believes that addressing the root causes of health inequalities is essential for a just, prosperous, and sustainable way of development for the well-being of communities in the Global South. Through collaborative efforts with governments, civil society organisations, and international partners, OSC is committed to promoting universal access to quality healthcare, ensuring clean air and water, and creating conducive living and working conditions for all.

To find out more read the OSC’s Strategic Plan and Programme on its contribution to integral health.

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