Press Release

Open Letter to the UN: Health Inequity during the Pandemic: A Cry for Ethical Global Leadership


On April 21, 2020, in response to rising evidence of the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on disadvantaged and marginalized communities worldwide, an array of public and global health entities, as well as scientific institutions and networks, collectively requested the United Nations (UN) Secretary General to establish a multisector Global Health Equity Task Force within the World Health Organization (WHO) to holistically and fairly address the full health, socio-demographic and economic dimensions of the COVID-19 pandemic in coordination with pertinent UN bodies.

Representing more than 1.5 million public health and healthcare professionals, this grassroots-level initiative was endorsed by more than 300 health-rights advocates from 45 countries, including a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, former heads of state, former ministers of health and of foreign affairs, leading academics, renowned public health officials, front line healthcare workers and concerned citizens.

Coordination and planning of a comprehensive global response to this pandemic must be rooted in EQUITY. The proposed Global Health Equity Task Force would act to support UN efforts to mitigate the anticipated disastrous effects when the pandemic strikes the world's most disadvantaged and marginalized people. The Task Force could make resources for preparedness and response accessible to countries according to need, safeguarding the global supply chain while providing equity-based guidance to mitigate the impact of the pandemic.  Only through thoughtful, collective action can we attain the levels of equity that are compatible with the universal right to health.

The original letter submitted to the Secretary General of the United Nations, HE Antonio Guterres can be found here, to join the movement and/or endorse the letter fill in this form.

For further information contact
Sebastian Tobar:

Update: on 15 May 2020 the Lancet published a letter of correspondence about this issue:

On April 21, 2020, we submitted an open letter to the UN calling for ethical global leadership to mitigate the unfair additional health and socioeconomic burden of this pandemic on disadvantaged populations. We proposed to create a multisector Global Health Equity Task Force, housed within WHO, charged with taking necessary steps for a comprehensive, equity-focused response. This Task Force would develop strategies for fair allocation of resources; including legislation to trigger coordinated production of and access to quality generic diagnostics, medicines, vaccines, supplies, and equipment, abolishing any pandemic-related patents. It would also support the development of enhanced recommendations on preparedness and response for our most vulnerable populations, and tailored, secure de-confinement strategies. Additionally, it would promote steps to strengthen universal health-care systems globally and to address the economic disparities that have led to this appalling inequity.

The open letter to the UN has been cosigned by more than 120 diverse entities, representing more than 5 million public health practitioners, scientists, academics, health-care professionals, and advocates, including the World Federation of Public Health Associations, Latin American Alliance for Global Health, InterAcademy Partnership, World Federation of Critical Care Nurses, and American Academy of Pediatrics

You can read the full letter here.

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