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Together, we can do more to end COVID-19. Let’s make self-care a greater healthcare focus for 2021.

The Global Self-Care Federation has called upon WHO Member States to re-evaluate the global COVID-19 response to include a greater inclusion of the self-care industry.

On 15th January 2021, UN Secretary General António Guterres announced that the global death toll from COVID-19 had surpassed more than 2 million people, roughly one year after the first outbreak of the virus in Wuhan, China. With daily deaths still rising, it’s paramount that the existing strategy undergo a soft re-evaluation to include other actors in the healthcare space.

The Global Self-Care Federation (GSCF) has fully supported relief efforts around the world to abate the novel coronavirus. From financial donations, to working directly with medical centres to provide logistical support at the peak of the pandemic’s first wave, our members have provided help and support using all the resources available to them, like using factory facilities to create PPE for healthcare centres short on supplies.

Other notable efforts have also been visible on a community level through our self-care partners, where pharmacies have stepped beyond their traditional role to offer extended services allowing better access to over-the-counter medication, telehealth consultations and diagnostics tools and testing. We’ve also seen pharmacies serve as a safe haven for women at risk from domestic violence following the various lockdown measures in place around the world. This year, we’re delighted that many pharmacies will play a key part in the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine programme.

By using our broad network of health expertise and far-reaching infrastructure, the self-care industry’s efforts have undeniably eased the burden of care placed on traditional healthcare systems during the challenging past year, but we believe more can be done to stop the virus in its tracks.

As a Federation with influence overlapping various sectors, we will continue to focus our support on sustainable healthcare by investing in medicines and medical products, and use our network to expand access to supplies, equally and fairly, in the global distribution programs.

It’s clear that successfully ending the spread of COVID-19 will only be possible through a well-coordinated, multi-stakeholder approach, that takes into account the complex logistics of the task but also one that innovates and finds new approaches to ongoing problems. In addition to the open collaboration of governments and regulators, we believe greater support can be garnered from actors less associated with healthcare, through public/private partnerships to increase the exchange of information, knowledge and best practices. This includes GSCF members but also academia and individual actors in the broader healthcare community, all working together to stop the virus and, in particular, the spread of fear and misinformation online.

There is a faceless effort to diminish the research and achievements of the global scientific community, who have worked hard to produce several life-saving vaccinations. In the context of fear caused by the pandemic, it is important to trust science and protect yourself and those around you. With vaccine programs in motion all around the world, we all have a role to play to ensure the information we consume online is credible, accurate and supports science-based evidence.

We believe that the integral role of the self-care industry and our member base is yet to be fully realized as part of the coordination of a meaningful response to the ongoing pandemic. The baton is now in the hands of WHO Member states to recognize the benefits of self-care for health, fostering an ecosystem which robustly assesses outcomes.

We’re confident that, together, more can be done to end COVID-19, so let’s make self-care a greater healthcare focus for 2021.

by Judy Stenmark

Director General of The Global Self-Care Federation

Switzerland

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