Open Letter :

In the face of COVID-19, the fight for Universal Health Coverage is more important than ever.

Kate Campana, Chief Executive Officer of The Access Challenge

April 13, 2020

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Dear One by One Community

We are undoubtedly going through one of the biggest crises in recent human history. Not only is COVID-19 overburdening even the most established health systems worldwide, it is also causing historic shifts in the social, political, and economic landscape around the globe. While we are struggling here in the United States, the virus bears an even greater threat to the well-being of communities across Africa. Given the relatively weak health systems (some of which are still recovering from the Ebola crisis), the critical shortages of personal protective equipment, lifesaving respirators, and pervading flows of misinformation, Africa is gearing up for one of the worst pandemics the globe has ever seen.

 

To minimize the transmission and spread of this disease and to give Africa ample time to prepare their health systems, it is absolutely critical that African leaders, private sector leaders, media leaders, global partners and citizens come together to rescue the vulnerable from immediate harm and begin to strategically invest in stronger health systems. As we have seen in the fights against Malaria, HIV, Ebola and SARS,  strong Primary Health Care systems are critical to prevent and manage disease. In order to be effective in reaching everyone, communities must be engaged from the start as we collectively react to these health threats.  

 

We must act now. When facing a virus that ignores all borders, a problem in Africa is a problem in the United States. No one is safe until all are safe. We echo the strong rallying cry of so many other organizations, governments, and individuals: We must work together now to minimize human loss in Africa and to ensure that health systems do not collapse, just like we’ve seen in other parts of the world.

 

The Access Challenge is committed to supporting African efforts to fight this deadly virus for the most vulnerable populations with the launch of a new campaign called One by One: Target COVID-19.

 

Through our One by One: Target COVID-19 initiative and under the leadership of former Tanzanian president, H.E. Jakaya Kikwete, The Access Challenge is stepping up the fight against COVID-19 by working with public and private sector leaders across Africa in an effort to support the African Union and member states to fight this unprecedented challenge. We will continue to recruit new partners to the fight for health access, will support health leaders with critical message dissemination, and will use our media influencers to challenge misinformation. Together with our valued partners at the African Union and at prominent pan-African media groups, the One by One: Target COVID-19 campaign will support evidence-based risk communications. We will engage with communities through their favorite celebrities with timely and accurate information, which will clarify misunderstanding around COVID-19 protection measures and empower citizens to take action. 

 

We commend the efforts of the African Union, WHO AFRO, and the Africa CDC for their timely leadership and engagement across sectors to fight this pandemic. We pledge to align our resources and expertise through the One by One: Target COVID-19 campaign to support these efforts.   

 

The battle against a pandemic can never be won until health is guaranteed to the most vulnerable among us. The Access Challenge believes it is critical to catalyze immediate action to alleviate suffering caused by COVID-19. Even more critically, we think that COVID-19 shows us how important it is to focus on strengthening Primary Health Services across the continent. Now it is time to initiate systematic investments in health systems that will rescue the vulnerable from immediate threats and protect access to all in the future. 

 

To all our partners and donors, thank you for your continued commitment and support. Stay safe, connect with your loved ones, and remain hopeful. Together we can save lives.  Together we will build a better tomorrow. 

 

 

In solidarity, 

 

Kate Campana

CEO, The Access Challenge

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