Pandemic preparedness and response: exploring the role of universal health coverage within the global health security architecture

Elsevier, The Lancet Global Health, Volume 10, November 2022
Lal A., Abdalla S.M., Chattu V.K., Erondu N.A., Lee T.-L., Singh S. et al.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, several international initiatives have been developed to strengthen and reform the global architecture for pandemic preparedness and response, including proposals for a pandemic treaty, a Pandemic Fund, and mechanisms for equitable access to medical countermeasures. These initiatives seek to make use of crucial lessons gleaned from the ongoing pandemic by addressing gaps in health security and traditional public health functions. However, there has been insufficient consideration of the vital role of universal health coverage in sustainably mitigating outbreaks, and the importance of robust primary health care in equitably and efficiently safeguarding communities from future health threats. The international community should not repeat the mistakes of past health security efforts that ultimately contributed to the rapid spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and disproportionately affected vulnerable and marginalised populations, especially by overlooking the importance of coherent, multisectoral health systems. This Health Policy paper outlines major (although often neglected) gaps in pandemic preparedness and response, which are applicable to broader health emergency preparedness and response efforts, and identifies opportunities to reconceptualise health security by scaling up universal health coverage. We then offer a comprehensive set of recommendations to help inform the development of key pandemic preparedness and response proposals across three themes—governance, financing, and supporting initiatives. By identifying approaches that simultaneously strengthen health systems through global health security and universal health coverage, we aim to provide tangible solutions that equitably meet the needs of all communities while ensuring resilience to future pandemic threats.