Preventing the Next Pandemic: The Case for Investing in Circulatory Health. A Global Coalition for Circulatory Health Position Paper
The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) has had a continuous and robust impact on world health. The resulting COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating physical, mental and fiscal impact on the millions of people living with noncommunicable diseases (NCDs). In addition to older age, people living with CVD, stroke, obesity, diabetes, kidney disease, and hypertension are at a particularly greater risk for severe forms of COVID-19 and its consequences. Meta-analysis indicates that hypertension, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, and thrombotic complications have been observed as both the most prevalent and most dangerous co-morbidities in COVID-19 patients. And despite the nearly incalculable physical, mental, emotional, and economic toll of this pandemic, forthcoming public health figures continue to place cardiovascular disease as the number one cause of death across the globe in the year 2020. The world simply cannot wait for the next pandemic to invest in NCDs. Social determinants of health cannot be addressed only through the healthcare system, but a more holistic multisectoral approach with at its basis the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is needed to truly address social and economic inequalities and build more resilient systems. Yet there is reason for hope: the 2019 UN Political Declaration on UHC provides a strong framework for building more resilient health systems, with explicit calls for investment in NCDs and references to fiscal policies that put such investment firmly within reach. By further cementing the importance of addressing circulatory health in a future Framework Convention on Emergency Preparedness, WHO Member States can take concrete steps towards a pandemic-free future. As the chief representatives of the global circulatory health community and patients, the Global Coalition for Circulatory Health calls for increased support for the healthcare workforce, global vaccine equity, embracing new models of care and digital health solutions, as well as fiscal policies on unhealthy commodities to support these investments.