A new HIFA thematic discussion: Maintaining essential health services during the pandemic: What have we learned? Starts 15 November 2021

8 November, 2021

We can now look back on 12-18 months of experience of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some countries have now entered a recovery phase with relatively few new cases and deaths (at least for now). Other countries continue to be facing heavy caseloads. Almost ever country has been affected and we have seen that essential health services - reproductive health, child health, mental health, non-communicable disease, surgery - have been severely disrupted in many ways. Even for those countries that are in a recovery phase, there are major challenges in terms of late presentation of disease and delayed access to surgery.

What have we learned? How can we better maintain essential health services during a pandemic? What action(s) did your government take that facilitated (or hindered) the delivery of services? How can we build resilience moving forwards?

1. Looking back over the past 18 months, in what ways has COVID-19 affected your work? What impact has COVID-19 had on your organisation or your health facility? How have things changed over time and where are you now?

2. How have you responded to these challenges? What worked well and not so well?

3. A health service is only as good as the people who work within it. Health workers have been under extraordinary pressures for several months on end. What have we learned and how can we better support health workers going forward?

4.  The content from previous discussions suggest that in some contexts  there has been both a disruption in delivery of services and also in demand, associated with exaggerated fears of infection from health facilities. How have attitudes changed in your experience/country?

The WHO-supported HIFA project on Maintaining essential health services during COVID-19 (and beyond) invites you to join the HIFA forums for our third and final thematic discussion: What have we learned? If you are not already a HIFA member, join here!

The discussion starts on 15 November and continues through to 19 December.

Highlights of earlier HIFA discussions are available as two Action Briefs on the WHO website: