May. 21, 2021

Director-General's live speech on Global Health Summit - Italian G20 Presidency and the European Com

Director-General's live speech on Global Health Summit - Italian G20 Presidency and the European Commission - 21 May 2021

Prime Minister Draghi,

President Ursula Von der Leyen,

Excellencies, dear colleagues and friends,

I would like to thank the Italian G20 Presidency and the European Commission for their leadership in initiating the Rome Declaration.

We welcome the declaration, especially the commitment to support and enhance the existing multilateral health architecture for preparedness, prevention, detection and response, with an appropriately, sustainably and predictably funded, effective WHO at its centre.

And we welcome the other commitments to strengthening national and global preparedness for preventing future pandemics.

But our commitment to the future is measured by our actions today.

Yesterday alone, more than 13 thousand people around the world lost their lives to COVID-19 – nine every single minute. Today the number will be similar. And tomorrow, and the next day.

And people will continue to die as long as the global disparity in vaccines persists.

Yes, the rapid development of COVID-19 vaccines is a triumph of science. But their inequitable distribution is a failure for humanity.

Almost 90% of all vaccines administered globally have been in G20 countries.

We can only end the pandemic if everyone has the tools to stop it.

So today I have three requests.

First, end this pandemic, with a combination of tailored public health measures and the equitable distribution of vaccines.

We call on G20 countries to fully fund the ACT Accelerator, as a matter of urgency;

To share more doses faster through COVAX. We thank all countries that have announced generous donations today. This is a very encouraging start towards the hundreds and millions of doses we will need in the coming weeks and months.

And to scale-up manufacturing as a matter of urgency, through sharing technology and know-how, and waiving intellectual property provisions, with a focus on Africa.

The G20 has all the means to vaccinate the world, and the world cannot wait any longer.

Second, strengthen health security, nationally and globally.

We welcome the commitments of the Rome Declaration to support the full implementation of the International Health Regulations, and for a multisectoral, all-of-government, all-of-society, evidence-based, One Health approach to health security.

WHO remains committed to working with all Member States to explore every avenue for keeping the world safer, including the proposal for a treaty on pandemic preparedness and response.

We believe such a treaty would create a high-level framework for political accountability that redefines the way countries deal with health emergencies – and that would encompass all countries, not just the richest and most powerful.

The treaty could address the challenges we’re facing now.

And third, drive progress towards universal health coverage in all countries, based on strong primary health care.

The pandemic has demonstrated that health is not a luxury, but the cornerstone of social, economic and political stability.

This will not be the last pandemic. We might be able to prevent some, but we cannot prevent them all.

Business as usual will produce the usual result: a world that is unsafe, unprepared and unfair.

But with bold ideas, bold commitments and bold leadership, we can write a healthier, safer, fairer future for our children and our children’s children.

I thank you.

Grazie mille, Prime Minister, and back to you.