(MENAFN- The Peninsula)
Doha: The coronavirus pandemic remains a stark reminder that the international community must do more to overcome glaring global disparities in healthcare availability and treatment, doctors told Qatar Foundation's Doha Debates' #DearWorldLive programme.
On a special World Health Day edition of #DearWorldLive, two renowned doctors highlighted the differences in healthcare between rich and poor countries, and even within wealthier nations.
American physician Dr. Cheryl L Holder, who serves underprivileged populations in Florida, said, 'I'm in the United States, a rich country, but the same disparities that we talk about [in the global south] happen here, too.
'I see it on a day-to-day basis here in America, just with the coronavirus. Black and brown people have paid a huge price. Dr. Vikram Patel, the co-founder of the Movement for Global Mental Health, said money is often at the root of healthcare disparities.
'Some people enjoy better health solely because of their wealth or privilege. Addressing this injustice is at the heart of global health. Patel called for urgent action to right healthcare wrongs. 'As a result of the pandemic, the global economy has been shattered. This has to be seen as a unique historical moment for every country to commit itself to invest in its health sector. Holder and Patel agreed that the ideal solution would be high-quality global universal health coverage (UHC).
Holder said: 'We need to reimagine healthcare, who is delivering it, and where we put our dollars. Patel argued that universal healthcare is a realistic goal despite the challenges involved. 'It's about political will and money. The amount of money that we are spending on the military in every country of the world would completely take care of universal health coverage for all our people. And it's a decision that we as people and our political masters have to take. What's more important, arming ourselves or promoting our health? It's fundamentally a political decision. It's not a question about money.
Viewer feedback during the interactive program included comments from Yasemin AlShanableh, a student at Qatar University's College of Medicine. 'The COVID-19 crisis has made the disparities in healthcare access even more apparent. Universal health coverage is one proposed solution to ensure that these inequities are eliminated. Is UHC the only solution available to better healthcare access for vulnerable populations, and is it realistically achievable on a global scale?
When asked by #DearWorldLive host Nelufar Hedayat what else should be done to narrow the healthcare divide, Holder said: 'All the data clearly shows that educating women and girls will benefit our society and improve our health outcomes.
Answering the same question, Patel said: 'The pandemic has taught us that no person is safe until everyone in every country is safe. We must look beyond our own borders to create a healthier and safer world for everyone.
Filipina American student nurse and TikTok personality Dane Marie Balbiran joined the conversation from the Philippines, saying: 'The more we learn and the more we study, the more creative our solutions [to global healthcare disparities] will be. The programme and all #DearWorldLive episodes can be seen on Doha Debates' Twitter, ssssFacebook, YouTube, and Twitch channels, and at DohaDebates.com/ DearWorldLive.
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