#EndCovidEverywhere Day of Action: CanWaCH calls for Canada to bolster its COVID-19 response by investing in vulnerable populations

The Canadian Partnership for Women and Children’s Health (CanWaCH) says that by investing in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic among the world’s most disadvantaged populations, the Government of Canada will uphold Canada’s long, proud leadership in ensuring a just, healthy world while also safeguarding the success of its domestic COVID-19 response.

In this interconnected world, any gains made in the Canadian domestic response to COVID-19 will be at risk unless Canada acts to combat the pandemic elsewhere as it destabilizes health care systems, blocks access to essential health services and gives rise to the spread of other viruses and disease, especially among vulnerable populations.

To address these serious impacts of the virus, CanWaCH is urging Canada to support the effort to end COVID-19 everywhere by committing at least 1% of its total COVID response – or $2 billion in new and additional funds – to a global response that tackles the spread of the virus and its secondary impacts in the poorest countries.  

This Canadian support is urgently needed to respond to catastrophic gaps in health care services due to COVID-19. Healthcare providers are overwhelmed and in many areas unavailable to support patient services due to travel restrictions, redeployment to COVID-19 response duties or because they have been infected themselves. In Ghana, the number of healthcare workers infected in the line of duty jumped from 779 at the beginning of July to over 2,000 by the end of that month. Insufficient and inadequate PPE, slow testing, and limited institutional capacity are cited for this trend.

Lack of access to sexual and reproductive health and rights services, is expected to result in the deaths of an additional 253,500 children and 12,200 women in the next six months - and that’s under the least severe scenario projections.  

It is also estimated that COVID-19 will result in 117 million missed child vaccinations. A survey of 82 countries reported that three-quarters had COVID-19 related disruptions in their immunization programmes as of May 2020. People are either unable to access them because of reluctance to leave home, transport interruptions, economic hardships, restrictions on movement, or fear of being exposed to people with COVID-19.

Even countries like Canada with robust healthcare systems and resources to mobilize against the virus are struggling to maintain the stability of their economies and a decent standard of living for its citizens. Yet for many developing nations, and certainly the vulnerable populations within them, economic stability and a decent standard of living is increasingly beyond reach.

The Government of Canada has shown tremendous leadership in advancing the health of Canadians with a special focus on the health and rights of the women and girls, everywhere. Now is the time for Canada to invest so that COVID-19 does not erode those hard fought gains.