Upcoming webinar: UHC and the Coronavirus Crisis – Challenges and Responses

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© UNICEF/Stephen

On Tuesday, 12 May 2020 at 8 AM EDT/GMT-4, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in collaboration with Pan American Health Organization (PAHO)/World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth (IPC-IG) is organizing the webinar Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and the Coronavirus Crisis – Challenges and Responses: maintaining essential health services while responding to COVID-19.

While many countries struggle to provide UHC, extended health emergencies such as the outbreak of COVID-19 puts enormous pressure on the supply side as health systems come under severe stress. In the process, social protection and access to essential health services of vulnerable populations further deteriorate, particularly hitting hard those without health insurance. In the first quarter of 2020, national health systems, including in countries with strong health systems, struggled to cope with the COVID-19 emergency response while at the same time maintaining the delivery of essential health services, including HIV, tuberculosis, malaria, non-communicable diseases, mental health, sexual and reproductive health, and child health.

Based on lessons from previous experiences of outbreaks where indirect mortalities from vaccine-preventable and treatable conditions can increase dramatically as a result of overwhelmed health and social protection systems, the World Health Organization (WHO) recently published the “Operational guidance for maintaining health services during an outbreak.” In collaboration with UNICEF, WHO also published a set of guiding principles for immunization activities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

We’re worried about their access to basic health services, including immunization and the treatment of childhood diseases. We cannot save a child from COVID-19, and then lose many to pneumonia, measles and cholera. Henrietta Fore, Executive Director, UNICEF[1]

The experiences of the People’s Republic of China and South Korea, both hit early by the Coronavirus outbreak but also, both with Universal Health Coverage, are interesting for other countries and for the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Speakers from China and South Korea will share their countries’ experiences from the health sector perspective and how health systems delivered essential health services at the height of the pandemic in their respective countries. They will also address some of the plans for recovery while contributions from UNICEF will link the delivery of essential health services including immunization during Covid19 to health system capacities and UHC.


  • Dr. Robin Nandy, Principal Advisor & Chief of Immunizations, UNICEF
  • Dr. Choe Young June, MD, PhD, Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, Hallym University College of Medicine, Republic of Korea
  • Dr. Yu Wenzhou, National Immunization Center of China, Center for Disease Control, People’s Republic of China

Moderator: Dr. James Fitzgerald, Director of Health Systems and Services, PAHO/WHO

This event will be the tenth to be organized as part of the Social protection responses to COVID-19 webinar series. The series is a joint effort initiated by IPC-IG, GIZ on behalf of the German Federal Ministry of Economic Development and Cooperation (BMZ), and the Australia Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).  

[1] UN launches global humanitarian response plan to COVID-19 pandemic