Global Health Care

Changing Global Health Budgets Due to COVID-19

COVID-19 was first a health crisis, a global pandemic which reached across just about every country and caused more deaths worldwide than any other international event. When the pandemic hit each individual country, one of the initial impacts was on their health system. The strengths and weaknesses, in many cases the weaknesses, were clearly exposed. The first order of government was to shore up their health system with massive expenditures.

The expenditure focussed on increasing hospital beds, especially intensive care units (ICUs) and the race was on to secure supplies of ventilators, hand sanitiser and personal protective equipment (PPE). With not all countries having their own manufacturers of these products, a global price competition quickly developed. Countries were competing against each other for dwindling supplies of essential medical supplies. In the USA, states were competing against each other, sometimes for access to federally-held supply stocks.

Huge amounts of money were also made available to research into vaccines from both government and private philanthropists.

The funds injected into health systems worldwide were astronomical. With many health experts predicting that coronavirus cannot be eradicated until a vaccine is found, the health costs will continue to mount likely for several years.

Governments realised that their existing health systems were not prepared to handle a pandemic. Australia had not conducted a pandemic readiness trial for many years.

While developed countries are in a reasonable position to provide additional support to their health systems, many undeveloped counties are simply completely under-resourced and with no real prospects for improving the situation except for a reliance on international aid.

Which brings into the conversation, what about WHO? Who? Yes, many are asking that question. Did the World Health Organisation act quickly and decisively enough in advising countries of the coronavirus pandemic? A reliance on WHO has been put into question as an independent and objective source of information and action. Many countries are calling for an international enquiry into the pandemic and the USA threatened to withdraw or at least withhold its funding of the organisation.

WHO has set aside funds to assist many countries that will not be able to cope including nations in Africa and Pacific Islands.

The COVID-19 pandemic has put a massive strain on health systems and health budgets just to deal with the treatment and testing process during the crisis. The costs moving forward are yet to be seen but it is highly likely that health budgets will receive greater attention and more funding to ensure countries are not left unprepared, should another health crisis emerge.