World Health Day 2021

Building a fairer, healthier world with ISO standards.

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Doctor in blue overalls, gloves and mask stands at the entrance of a tent health centre in Djibouti
Por Clare Naden
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The COVID-19 pandemic has turned all eyes towards not only our health and our health systems but also their deficiencies. While we are united in the fragility of our existence, we are cruelly divided in terms of access to medical care.

This year’s World Health Day focuses on reducing the disparities when it comes to how people access healthcare in order to restore the human right of good health for all. ISO not only has a number of standards aimed at equitable healthcare management, but it has made many of those that are relevant to COVID-19 freely available online. These include standards for ventilators, medical and personal protection equipment and occupational health and safety.

What’s more, by bringing together international best practice, standards can help countries and organizations with limited resources benefit from the latest expert guidance on establishing practices and protocols that can help.

The upcoming IWA 38, Building guideline of emergency medical facility, will provide guidelines on how to quickly construct facilities for respiratory infectious diseases within existing medical institutions. The International Workshop Agreement will draw on the latest scientific guidance from around the world for the prevention and control of such illnesses.

This will be complemented by the future ISO 5472, Standard protocols of walk-through screening stations for infectious disease control, which is aimed at facilitating the safe and cost-effective implementation of testing stations for the detection of infectious diseases such as COVID-19. These can reduce the amount of protective equipment needed and increase the number of people tested.

Two female doctors with masks and clipboards walk briskly down a busy road alongside a queue of cars.

Also in development is ISO/TS 5798, Quality practice for detection of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) by nucleic acid amplification methods. The new technical specification will provide the necessary considerations for the design, development, verification, validation and implementation of analytical tests for detecting SARS-CoV-2 using nucleic acid amplification methods. It will include pre-examination and examination process steps for respiratory tract specimens as well as their relevant parameters.

In addition, the recently published ISO/PA  45005, Occupational health and safety management – General guidelines for safe working during the COVID-19 pandemic, was developed in just three months in response to the urgency of the situation and the pressing need for such information. Available at no cost online, the publicly available specification is aimed not only at organizations but at individual workers in every kind of activity, to help them continue to work while protecting their health. It provides crucial aid at a time when not only the health but the livelihoods of so many are threatened.

All of these standards, and many more, contribute to this year’s World Health Day objectives and to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal for good health and well-being (SDG 3), which aims to “ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages”.

Learn more about the standards made freely available and the resources developed by our members to support global efforts in the COVID-19 crisis.

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