Home / News / India /  Covid: About 500 mn jobs gone, global economy losing $375 bn per month, says UN

NEW DELHI: The coronavirus pandemic is costing the global economy $375 billion a month, and has seen some 500 million jobs lost since the crisis struck, the United Nations said in a policy brief on Wednesday.

The policy brief--Covid-19 and Universal Health Coverage--said the pandemic has shown that effective epidemic control benefits economy while exposing the risks of financing health coverage primarily through wage-based contributions. In the context of a global economic crisis where unemployment increases, and where entitlement to services is linked to such contributions, access to health services is reduced at the time people need it the most.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres, while launching the policy brief, called on everyone to draw "hard lessons" from the pandemic, for which the world was not prepared.

"One of those lessons is that under-investment in health can have a devastating impact on societies and economies. The pandemic revealed utterly inadequate health systems, yawning gaps in social protection, and major structural inequalities within and between countries," said Guterres, adding that covid-19 has shown that universal health coverage, strong public health systems and emergency preparedness are essential to communities, to economies, to everyone.

Nine months into the crisis, covid-19 has claimed more than one million lives across the world and infected more than 30 million people, with infections rising and signs of new waves.

The policy brief highlighted that although health is a fundamental human right and universal health coverage, a key target for Sustainable Development Goals (, at least half of the world’s population does not have full coverage of essential health services and over 800 million people spend at least 10% of their household budgets to pay for health services.

"Universal health coverage requires governments to increase investments in common goods for health, including surveillance and risk communication, as well as making public health programmes inclusive and equitable, without financial barriers. Health treatment should not depend on financial status," said Guterres.

"There is an urgent need of universal health coverage, including mental health coverage to strengthen efforts against covid-19 as well as to prepare for future crises," he said.

The policy brief outlined five major recommendations, including controlling further transmission of covid-19 through proven public health measures and a coordinated global response, protecting delivery of other essential health services during the pandemic, such as for cancer, heart disease and other diseases.

Alongside, it also called for ensuring everyone, everywhere has access to future covid-19 vaccines, tests and treatment, achieving universal health coverage, with increased investments in common goods for health, such as surveillance, procurement and supply chain, and risk communications; and strengthening pandemic preparedness and response.

Though universal health coverage comes at a cost, the price is cheap, “when we consider the alternative. I urge all to speed up and scale up investment in universal health coverage and in stronger health systems, starting immediately," said Guterres.

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