Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 has been a challenging year for public health and healthcare professionals. The pandemic put extreme pressure on health systems worldwide. Health services were overwhelmed and healthcare workers faced an unprecedented workload. Even though healthcare professionals did their best to maintain levels of care, the consequences of the pandemic have been disastrous in terms of number of deaths, economic loss (unemployment, economic recession…). Mental health of the general population, healthcare workers and public health professionals has also been threatened. Vulnerable groups of the population have been the most negatively impacted by the pandemic. In my opinion, the key issues were the overall lack of preparedness, the lack of human and material resources in healthcare facilities, and the lack of budget for public health services.

The situation we went through in 2020 emphasised the need to strengthen our health systems and to invest more money into public health services. Due to the modern way of life (frequent travels, humans moving closer to wildlife habitats…) and to the threats caused by climate change, situations like the COVID-19 pandemic are likely to happen again in the future. We need to be better prepared, and we need to learn from what happened during the COVID-19 pandemic to avoid making the same mistakes again. My hope for 2021 is that governments understand how important public health is and invest money in public health services. I expect governments to stop cutting hospital funds and address the physicians shortage. I also hope that vulnerable populations will be taken into consideration when designing new health or economic policies, and that no one will be left behind.

I have chosen a picture of me feeding a green parrot to illustrate my hopes for 2021. This picture was taken in Hyde Park (London, UK) at the end of the lockdown. It was such a happy day for me. I was able to take the tube and travel to Hyde Park again, which had been impossible for several months due to the lockdown.  We may still be facing huge challenges at the moment and have to postpone some activities; but I am confident the situation will get better in 2021. My main wish for 2021 is to start seeing smiles on People’s faces again, like mine when I went back to Hyde Park to feed the parrots.

Magali Collonaz, EUR

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