Health and Healthcare Systems

4 ideas that could make our response to COVID-19 more equal

People line up to receive free holiday boxes of food from the Food Bank For New York City ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday, as the global outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in the Harlem neighborhood of New York, U.S., November 16, 2020.  REUTERS/Brendan McDermid - RC2M4K93DE3L

People line up to receive free holiday boxes of food from the Food Bank For New York City ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday in the US. Image: REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Natalie Çilem
Community Specialist, Civil Society, World Economic Forum Geneva
Andrin Schwere
Topic Curator, UpLink, World Economic Forum Geneva
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  • In recent weeks, the World Economic Forum's UpLink platform has sourced policy perspectives and innovative solutions to identify and address systemic inequalities in our response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Solutions and policy perspectives from South-East Asia, Europe, Africa, North- and South America have been submitted.
  • UpLink announces its first cohort of COVID Social Justice innovators, four solutions addressing systemic inequities that shape the mental health and wellbeing of marginalized young people, provide training and make therapies more accessible to families with children with disabilities, and tackle the inequal distribution of PPEs.
  • The UpLink COVID Social Justice Challenge was launched in collaboration with Impact Partners, Swasti, Shemseya, Fair Count, YMCA USA, Conrad Hilton Foundation, Reach52, Minority Rights Group, Safe Access, Innpactia, Mass Design Group and Mojaloop Foundation.

Over the last nine months, the COVID-19 pandemic has spread to every corner of the world, exacerbating pre-existing systemic inequalities across societies. From disproportionate rates of infection and fatalities among Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic (BAME) populations, to healthcare disparities for women and girls and increased risk and exposure of frontline workers, the pandemic has shown the world that inequality is global, systemic, contextual and persistent.

In an effort to address systemic inequalities and COVID-19, the World Economic Forum’s UpLink platform launched the COVID-19 Social Justice challenge. This challenge called for policy perspectives and innovative solutions to identify and address systemic inequalities in the COVID response and outcomes in local contexts.

All solutions submitted on UpLink have been carefully reviewed and assessed by a high-level group of experts from the World Economic Forum’s civil society networks to elect the first UpLink cohort of 4 COVID Social Justice Innovators.

Have you read?

The World Economic Forum and UpLink will work extensively with this group over the coming months to scale their impact, create visibility for their projects on our social media platforms and present them at our events.

UpLink is on a mission to surface and support innovators from around the world. Here are the first COVID Social Justice Innovators who have answered the call:

The COVID-19 pandemic has deepened the systemic inequities that shape the mental health and wellbeing of marginalized young people. citiesRISE’ early work in the Chennai, Nairobi, Bogotá, Sacramento, and Seattle lay the foundation for a Mental Health Friendly Cities (MHFC) framework.

Built around the core pillars of enhancing coping, increasing connectedness, and promoting access to a caring ecosystem, the framework stewards innovations, collaborations and investment in the mental health of young people. citiesRISE pushes the frontiers of science and community experience to advance policies and programmes that conceptualize and applies three dimensions of wellbeing – self, society, and space – and will make our cities more 'mental health friendly' after the pandemic.


TheraWee is a community telerehabilitation platform designed to deliver evidence-based practices through parent coaching and teletherapy services for children with disabilities. TheraWee is human-centric driven and includes a central hub for collaboration and centralized information dissemination, customizable teletherapy tools and caregiver-friendly documentation with data driven progress reports for families in low- and middle-income countries.

TheraWee’s goal is to increase affordability and accessibility of rehabilitation services by fostering collaboration between multiple disciplines and by affordable therapy services and employment opportunities for parents.

Noora Health’s Care Companion Program (CCP) re-imagines the role of the family, training them with high-impact, evidence-based medical skills while still in the hospital. Noora's unique health behaviour change programme combines the critical lenses of public-health, design, and technology to transform family care into a process that encourages healing.

The CCP has reached over 1 million family members already. Since 2014, Noora has partnered with government health systems to identify gaps in critical health outcomes and health behaviour practice, develop engaging health education content and tools, and upskilling government healthcare staff to train family members on life-saving techniques.

In the face of the COVID-19 outbreak, Noora was uniquely positioned to respond in India and Bangladesh by using its proven experience in driving behaviour change for at-risk communities. Noora's COVID-19 reponse has reached over 13 million people with critical training and resources, providing training for COVID-positive patients and families who are quarantining at home.

Family Mask's #PPEforALL

#PPEforALL commits to producing FDA-registered and surgical grade face masks at affordable prices, to ensure everyone has access to Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). So far, 1 million face masks have been donated to social enterprises and healthcare organizations, most of them belonging to minority communities. In addition to existing manufacturing facilities in Hong Kong and China, #PPEfoALL has created the Tech Access Alliance to share know-how in PPE production with different communities to support their transformation and repurposing of existing facilities to create PPE.

Join our Social Justice Community on UpLink to meet other innovators and share your ideas.

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