WHO DG pays tributes to healthcare professionals for managing Covid19 patients

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WHO DG pays tributes to
healthcare professionals
for managing Covid19 patients
So far COVAX has shipped 70 million doses
of vaccine to 124 countries and economies

GENEVA: WHO Director-General in the opening session of World Health Assembly paid special tribute to the sacrifices of health workers worldwide striving to protect people from COVID-19. Addressing the participants of the WHA which opened here on May 24th, Dr. Tedros said that 17 months into the defining health crisis of our age, the world remains in a dangerous situation. So far in 2021, there have been more cases and deaths reported compared to the whole of 2020. On current trends, the number of deaths will overtake last year’s total within the next three weeks he further stated.

Continuing he said that the pandemic will not be over until and unless transmission is controlled in every last country. The vaccine crisis is a “scandalous inequity that is perpetuating the pandemic,”. Dr. Tedros urged Member States to support a “sprint to September” to vaccinate at least 10 percent of the population of every country by September, and a “drive to December” to achieve our goal of vaccinating at least 30 percent by the end of the year as a minimum.

Dr. Tedros noted the proposal by the International Monterrey Fund to vaccinate 40 percent of the world’s population by the end of 2021 and 60 percent by mid-2022. The number of doses made available to COVAX remains vastly inadequate. To date, COVAX has shipped 70 million doses to 124 countries and economies. But that is sufficient for less than 0.5% of the combined population of those countries. A small group of countries that make and buy the majority of the world’s vaccines control the fate of the rest of the world. Countries that vaccinate low-risk groups now do it at the expense of health workers and high-risk groups in other countries.

No variants have emerged that significantly undermine efficacy of vaccines, diagnostics or therapeutics. But there is no guarantee that will remain the case. There are three key needs: fully fund the ACT Accelerator, share vaccine doses and scale-up vaccine manufacturing. Every country can do more, including increasing surveillance, testing, sequencing, and sharing information; empowering people and communities; supporting businesses and workplaces; implementing national vaccination strategies.

The proposed Framework Convention on Pandemic Preparedness and Response can support international solidarity and sharing data, information and resources. We cannot build a safer world from the top down; we must build from the ground up. Preparing for, preventing, detecting and responding rapidly to epidemics doesn’t start in the world’s corridors of power. It starts in the streets of deprivation and overcrowding where people live without enough food, access to health workers, clean water and electricity.

The ACT Accelerator, the pilot Universal Health and Preparedness Review programme, and plans for the WHO Hub for Pandemic and Epidemic Intelligence in Berlin, the WHO Academy, and the WHO BioHub in Switzerland are examples of the platforms needed to fill gaps. The WHO 2020-2021 Mid-Term Results Report shows that globally, coverage of essential health services continues to expand, but at least half the world’s population still lacks access to essential health services. Despite COVID-19, Dr. Tedros outlined progress from reducing Hepatitis B prevalence in children and action on neglected tropical diseases and NCDs. WHO he concluded was committed to accountability for the results it achieves, but also for how it works, which is why any report of sexual exploitation and abuse by the Organization’s staff cannot be tolerated.

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