Secretary-General’s video message to the World Health Assembly – world
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, dear colleagues, friends,
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a tsunami of suffering. Over 3.4 million lives have been lost. Some 500 million jobs have disappeared; billions of dollars have been wiped off global balance sheets.
The most vulnerable suffer the most, and I fear this is far from over.
I pay tribute to the frontline health workers who are the heroes of this pandemic. Millions of healthcare professionals continue to put themselves at risk every day. We owe them our deepest gratitude.
This includes our colleagues at the World Health Organization, who work around the world to help Member States save lives and protect vulnerable people.
Excellencies, colleagues, friends,
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, I have warned of the dangers of a two-tier global response.
Sadly, unless we act now, we are faced with a situation where rich countries are vaccinating the majority of their populations and opening up their economies, while the virus continues to cause great suffering as it rotates and mutates in the poorest countries. poorer. Further spikes and surges could kill hundreds of thousands and slow the global economic recovery.
COVID-19 cannot be beaten one country at a time.
We need coordinated global action in three areas to put the world on the path to recovery and to achieve the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs.
First, the world must react resolutely and in solidarity to stop the virus.
World leaders urgently need to put in place a global plan for equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, tests and treatment.
It starts with funding the ACT-Accelerator and its COVAX facility, to deploy vital tools in the world’s poorest countries.
But it’s not enough.
We are at war with a virus. We need the logic and urgency of a war economy to strengthen the capacity of our weapons.
On Friday, I called on the G20 to set up a working group that brings together all countries with vaccine production capacities, the World Health Organization, ACT-Accelerator partners and international financial institutions, able to deal with pharmaceutical companies and other key stakeholders.
It should aim to at least double manufacturing capacity by exploring all options, from voluntary licenses and technology transfers to pooling of patents and flexibility of intellectual property rights.
The Task Force should address the issue of equitable global distribution using the ACT accelerator and its COVAX function.
The G20 Working Group should be co-convened at the highest level by the great powers which hold the bulk of the global supply and production capacity, as well as the multilateral system.
I am ready to mobilize the entire United Nations system to support this effort.
Second, we need to strengthen primary health care systems and universal health coverage.
COVID-19 cannot be considered in isolation from the fundamental problems of our health systems: inequalities, underfunding; complacency, neglect.
With the right primary health care systems in place, we will recover from this pandemic faster and avoid the next one before it sets in.
Our efforts to recover from COVID-19 should not come at the expense of other essential health care, from women’s reproductive services to children’s vaccinations and mental health coverage.
Third, we must prepare for the next global health emergency.
Strong primary health systems are a start, but they are not enough.
I fully support the bold recommendations of the recent report of the Independent Panel on Pandemic Preparedness and Response.
The world needs political commitment at the highest level to transform the existing system through a coordinated approach at the international level and bringing together all governments and society.
WHO must be at the heart of preparing for a global pandemic. It needs sustainable and predictable resources, and it must be fully empowered to do the job required of it.
We need a framework of international cooperation and solidarity worthy of the future;
New solutions for sustainable and predictable financing;
And the national capacity to prevent, detect and respond to epidemic outbreaks.
Excellencies, colleagues, friends,
COVID-19 must be a turning point.
Your deliberations at this 74th World Health Assembly will be essential in setting the highest levels of ambition.
I urge you to take the bold decisions necessary to end this pandemic and build safe and healthy communities and societies for the future.