WHO chief urges world to take lessons from COVID-19 pandemic to achieve health security

World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has called for unity. /Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

The COVID-91 pandemic can be used as a springboard in the quest to achieve global health security and preparedness, according to the World Health Organization’s Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

Mr. Ghebreyesus made the remarks in his address at the World Health Assembly on Monday.

“This will not be the last global health crisis,” the Director-General.

“When the next one arrives, will the headlines be the same? Will they say that after the COVID-19 pandemic, the world wrung its hands, wrote reports and changed nothing? Or will they say that COVID-19 was a turning point for global health security, and for global health? This is our opportunity to write that story now.”

The WHO chief’s remarks came as the number of COVID-19 cases globally have surpassed the 50.51 million mark, with a death toll exceeding 1.25 million, according to figures published by the U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University.

Mr. Ghebreyesus also used the opportunity to reiterate calls for global solidarity in the fight against the virus, which he said “pays no heed to political rhetoric or conspiracy theories.”

“We might be tired of COVID-19. But it is not tired of us,” he said.

Ghebreyesus added that while a vaccine needed urgently to control the pandemic, a vaccine by itself would not the systemic problems which led to COVID-19’s spread around the world.

“A vaccine cannot address the global under-investment in essential public health functions and resilient health systems…here is no vaccine for poverty, hunger, climate change or inequality.”

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