CORONA VIRUS

Nov. 20, 2020

WHO Director-General's opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19 - 20 November 2020

20 November 2020
 

Good morning, good afternoon and good evening.

More cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the past 4 weeks than in the first six months of the pandemic.

Across Europe and North America, hospitals and ICU units are filling up or full.

This week there has been more good news from vaccine trials, which continues to give us hope of ending the pandemic. At the same time, we must continue to use the tools we have to interrupt the chains of transmission and save lives now.  

The COVID-19 pandemic is a stark reminder of the intimate relationship between humans, animals and the planet we share.

We cannot protect and promote human health without paying attention to the health of animals and the health of our environment.

That’s nowhere more true than in the case of antimicrobial resistance – one of the greatest health threats of our time.

Antimicrobial resistance may not seem as urgent as a pandemic, but it is just as dangerous.

It threatens to unwind a century of medical progress and leave us defenceless against infections that today can be treated easily.

Although antibiotics are a key focus, antimicrobial resistance also includes resistance to medicines for HIV, malaria, neglected tropical diseases and more.  

Wednesday marked the start of World Antimicrobial Awareness Week, an annual opportunity to raise awareness of antimicrobial resistance and encourage best practices among the general public, health workers and policy makers to slow the development and spread of drug-resistant infections.

The slogan for 2020 is "Antimicrobials: handle with care".

For years, WHO has been working with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, and the World Organisation for Animal Health, to address antimicrobial resistance and other health issues that arise from the interaction between humans and animals with a “One Health” approach.

Our three organizations – called the tripartite – conduct regular surveys to monitor country progress on antimicrobial resistance.

Our latest report, with data from 136 countries, shows that almost 90% of countries have national action plans for antimicrobial resistance, but only 20% have identified funding for implementation.

To help address that gap, together we have established a trust fund to support low- and middle-income countries to develop a truly One Health approach to addressing antimicrobial resistance.

Thanks to the governments of the Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom, to date we have raised US $13 million, which will provide the first round of support to eleven countries.

Just this week we have launched the implementation in Indonesia.

Additional funds will be required for the next round of investment.

Today the tripartite is launching a new report that examines the international instruments that govern the use of antimicrobials – and identifies gaps in regulations for use of antimicrobials in humans, animals and plants.

Together, our three organizations will work to address these gaps and generate more global coherence in the use of antimicrobials.

One of the most important ways to do that is through increased political commitment at the highest levels of government.

That’s why today we are launching the One Health Global Leaders Group, which will bring together prominent leaders from government, the private sector and civil society organizations, to advocate for urgent action to combat the threat of antimicrobial resistance.

The Group will be co-chaired by Her Excellency Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bangladesh, and Her Excellency Mia Mottley, Prime Minister of Barbados.

The Group will bring together key stakeholders in agriculture, health, development, food and feed production and other relevant areas to maintain urgency, public support, political momentum and visibility of the antimicrobial resistance challenge.

It’s now my great honour to introduce the co-chair of the One Health Leaders Group, Her Excellency Sheikh Hasina, the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, to say a few words.

Your Excellency, you have the floor and thank you for your commitment and support.

[H.E. SHEIKH MASINA MADE BRIEF REMARKS]

Thank you, Your Excellency. I would now like to introduce the other co-chair of the One Health Leaders Group, Her Excellency Mia Mottley, Prime Minister of Barbados.

Your Excellency, thank you for your commitment and support. You have the floor.

[H.E. MIA MOTTLEY MADE BRIEF REMARKS]

Thank you, Your Excellency. And I would like to also point out that you share the same name as my new granddaughter, Mia.

I’m also delighted to be joined today by my colleagues in the tripartite: Qu Dongyu, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations; and Dr Monique Eliot, Director-General of the World Organisation for Animal Health.

Mr Qu, welcome and you have the floor.

[MR QU MADE BRIEF REMARKS]

Thank you. And now it’s my honour to introduce the Director-General of the World Organisation for Animal Health, Dr Monique Eliot.

Dr Eliot, welcome, and you have the floor.

[DR ELIOT MADE BRIEF REMARKS]

Merci beaucoup, Dr Eliot, and thank you to all our guests today. We look forward to working closely with all of you to protect the medicines that protect us.

Fadela, back to you.

[DR TEDROS MADE THE FOLLOWING REMARKS AT THE CONCLUSION OF THE BRIEFING]

Today is World Children’s Day. As our colleagues at UNICEF say, it’s a day to reimagine a better future for every child.

Although children are less at risk from severe COVID disease, children have suffered from the pandemic in many ways.

Our response to the pandemic, and the way we recover from it, will shape the world our children grow up in.

That makes it even more important to fight the pandemic with every tool at our disposal – to save lives now and give our children a better future.

I thank you.

Oct. 27, 2020

WHO Director-General's opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19 - 26 October 2020

26 October 2020
  • Last week saw the highest number of COVID-19 cases reported so far. Many countries in the northern hemisphere are seeing a concerning rise in cases and hospitalisations. And intensive care units are filling up to capacity in some places, particularly in Europe and North America. 
  • We must do all we can to protect health workers, and the best way to do that is for all of us to take every precaution we can to reduce the risk of transmission, for ourselves and others. No one wants more so-called lockdowns. But if we want to avoid them, we all have to play our part.  
  • The fight back against this pandemic is everyone’s business. We cannot have the economic recovery we want and live our lives the way we did before the pandemic. We can keep our kids in school, we can keep businesses open, we can preserve lives and livelihoods. We can do it! But we must all make trade-offs, compromises and sacrifices.
  • When leaders act quickly and deliberately, the virus can be suppressed. But, where there has been political division at the national level; where there has been blatant disrespect for science and health professionals, confusion has spread and cases and deaths have mounted. This is why I have said repeatedly: stop the politicisation of COVID-19.  
  • Last week WHO conducted its first global e-learning course on health and migration, addressing a critical and often neglected topic of global health. It's vital that all countries include refugees and migrants in their national policies as part of their commitment to universal health coverage.  

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Good morning, good afternoon and good evening.

Last week saw the highest number of COVID-19 cases reported so far.

Many countries in the northern hemisphere are seeing a concerning rise in cases and hospitalisations.

And intensive care units are filling up to capacity in some places, particularly in Europe and North America.

Over the weekend, a number of leaders critically evaluated their situation and took action to limit the spread of the virus.

We understand the pandemic fatigue that people are feeling.

It takes a mental and physical toll on everyone.

Working from home, children being schooled remotely, not being able to celebrate milestones with friends and family or not being there to mourn loved ones – it’s tough and the fatigue is real.

But we cannot give up. 

We must not give up.

Leaders must balance the disruption to lives and livelihoods with the need to protect health workers and health systems as intensive care fills up.

In March, health workers were routinely applauded for the personal sacrifice they were making to save lives.

Many of those health workers, who have themselves gone through immense stress and trauma, are still on the frontlines, facing a fresh wave of new patients.

We must do all we can to protect health workers, and the best way to do that is for all of us to take every precaution we can to reduce the risk of transmission, for ourselves and others.

No one wants more so-called lockdowns. But if we want to avoid them, we all have to play our part.

The fight back against this pandemic is everyone’s business.

We cannot have the economic recovery we want and live our lives the way we did before the pandemic.

We can keep our kids in school, we can keep businesses open, we can preserve lives and livelihoods. We can do it!

But we must all make trade-offs, compromises and sacrifices.

For individuals, families and communities, that means staying at home and especially if you have been exposed to a case.

Furthermore, you continue to maintain physical distance, wearing a mask, cleaning your hands regularly, coughing away from others, avoiding crowds, or meeting friends and family outside.  

For governments, it means doing the same things we have been calling for since day one: know your epidemic.

Break the chains of transmission. Test extensively. Isolate and care for cases. And trace and provide supported quarantine for all contacts.

With these measures, you can catch-up to this virus, you can get ahead of this virus, and you can stay ahead of this virus.

We say this because we have seen many places around the world get ahead and stay ahead of the virus.

===

There aren’t magic solutions to this outbreak, just hard work from leaders at all levels of societies, health workers, contact tracers and individuals.

And then, once you have the upper hand, it’s important to strengthen health systems, the health workforce and contact tracing systems so that the virus doesn’t take hold again.

Science continues to tell us the truth about this virus.

How to contain it, suppress it and stop it from returning, and how to save lives among those it reaches.

Many countries and cities have followed the science, suppressed the virus and minimized deaths.

From Dakar to Melbourne, Milan to Islamabad, New York to Beijing.

When leaders act quickly and deliberately, the virus can be suppressed.

For leaders, as my colleague Dr. Mike Ryan said back in March, the most important thing to do is to “move fast, have no regrets.”

But, where there has been political division at the national level; where there has been blatant disrespect for science and health professionals, confusion has spread and cases and deaths have mounted.

This is why I have said repeatedly: stop the politicisation of COVID-19.

A pandemic is not a political football. Wishful thinking or deliberate diversion will not prevent transmissions or save lives. 

What will save lives is science, solutions and solidarity.

That is why we say solidarity, solidarity solidarity.

===

Finally, last week WHO conducted its first global e-learning course on health and migration, addressing a critical and often neglected topic of global health.

The course included being directly connected live with health and migration projects on the ground so that they could receive direct feedback from those in the field.

There were people attending from 122 different countries worldwide and I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate all individuals, all involved in this course.

All of public health suffers when any community is excluded.

It's vital that all countries include refugees and migrants in their national policies as part of their commitment to universal health coverage.

I hope the knowledge gained through this course will act as a catalyst for health policies that include migrants and refugee communities.

Health for all, means all.

I thank you 

 

Oct. 27, 2020
  • Last week saw the highest number of COVID-19 cases reported so far. Many countries in the northern hemisphere are seeing a concerning rise in cases and hospitalisations. And intensive care units are filling up to capacity in some places, particularly in Europe and North America. 
  • We must do all we can to protect health workers, and the best way to do that is for all of us to take every precaution we can to reduce the risk of transmission, for ourselves and others. No one wants more so-called lockdowns. But if we want to avoid them, we all have to play our part.  
  • The fight back against this pandemic is everyone’s business. We cannot have the economic recovery we want and live our lives the way we did before the pandemic. We can keep our kids in school, we can keep businesses open, we can preserve lives and livelihoods. We can do it! But we must all make trade-offs, compromises and sacrifices.
  • When leaders act quickly and deliberately, the virus can be suppressed. But, where there has been political division at the national level; where there has been blatant disrespect for science and health professionals, confusion has spread and cases and deaths have mounted. This is why I have said repeatedly: stop the politicisation of COVID-19.  
  • Last week WHO conducted its first global e-learning course on health and migration, addressing a critical and often neglected topic of global health. It's vital that all countries include refugees and migrants in their national policies as part of their commitment to universal health coverage.  
Oct. 20, 2020

WHO Director-General's opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19 - 19 October 2020

19 October 2020

I am delighted to announce that WHO has the honour of working with Kim Sledge, of the legendary group Sister Sledge, and Natasha Mudhar, founder of the World We Want organization.  Together, we are today announcing the start of a new We Are Family campaign to promote global solidarity and collaboration in the face of COVID-19. We Are Family is a global anthem that calls for what the world needs most right now – solidarity, unity and collaboration. 

  • As the northern hemisphere enters winter, we’re seeing cases accelerate – particularly in Europe and North America. 
  • As cases go up, the number of people needing beds in hospitals and intensive care also increases. Nurses and doctors have a much better understanding of how best to treat people with the virus than they did in the early days of the pandemic.
  • We all have a part to play. Physical distancing, mask wearing, hand hygiene, coughing safely into your arm, avoiding crowds and meeting people outside where possible and when you have to be inside with others – open windows and ensure good ventilation with non recirculating air. I know there’s fatigue but the virus has shown that when we let our guard down, it can surge back at breakneck speed and threaten hospitals and health systems.
  • I am pleased to announce today that 184 countries have now joined COVAX. The most recent countries joining over the weekend are Ecuador and Uruguay. COVAX represents the largest portfolio of potential COVID-19 vaccines and the most effective way to share safe and effective vaccines equitably across the world. 
 

 

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Good morning, good afternoon and good evening.

I want to start the week off on a happy note.

I am delighted to announce that WHO has the honour of working with Kim Sledge, of the legendary group Sister Sledge, and Natasha Mudhar, founder of the World We Want organization.  

Together, we are today announcing the start of a new We Are Family campaign to promote global solidarity and collaboration in the face of COVID-19.

We Are Family is a global anthem that calls for what the world needs most right now – solidarity, unity and collaboration. 

Working together, as a global family, for the future.

I would like to thank Kim Sledge for her kind offer to donate proceeds from the sale of her special edition cover of We Are Family to the WHO Foundation. This is in support of the COVID-19 response and strengthening health services around the world.

I would also like to announce that we will have the honour of having Kim Sledge sing We Are Family at the opening of the 73rd World Health Assembly, which resumes on the 9th of November.

I now would like to introduce Kim Sledge and Natasha Mudhar to describe the motivation for the We Are Family campaign and how it will work.

Kim, the floor is yours.

==

Thank you Kim, we will win together, now I would like to hand over to Natasha Mudhar, of the World We Want.

===

On Friday, we discussed the worrying phase that the COVID-19 pandemic has entered.

As the northern hemisphere enters winter, we’re seeing cases accelerate – particularly in Europe and North America.

It is encouraging to see many leaders communicating with their populations about targeted measures that are needed to slow down the spread of the virus and protect health workers and health systems.

As cases go up, the number of people needing beds in hospitals and intensive care also increases.

Nurses and doctors have a much better understanding of how best to treat people with the virus than they did in the early days of the pandemic.

However, when hospital capacity is reached and exceeded, it is a very difficult and dangerous situation for both patients and health workers alike.

So it’s important that all governments focus on the fundamentals that help to break the chains of transmission and save both lives and livelihoods.

This means active case finding, cluster investigations, isolating all cases, quarantining contacts, ensuring good clinical care, supporting and protecting health workers and protecting the vulnerable.

We’re in this for the long haul, but there is hope that if we make smart choices together - we can keep cases down, ensure essential health services continue and children can still go to school.

We all have a part to play.

Physical distancing, mask wearing, hand hygiene, coughing safely into your arm, avoiding crowds and meeting people outside where possible and when you have to be inside with others – open windows and ensure good ventilation with non recirculating air.

I know there’s fatigue but the virus has shown that when we let our guard down, it can surge back at breakneck speed and threaten hospitals and health systems.

===

On 9 October I shared that 171 countries and economies were part of the Gavi, CEPI and WHO-led COVAX initiative for vaccine access.

I am pleased to announce today that 184 countries have now joined COVAX.

The most recent countries joining over the weekend are Ecuador and Uruguay.

COVAX represents the largest portfolio of potential COVID-19 vaccines and the most effective way to share safe and effective vaccines equitably across the world. 

Equitably sharing vaccines is the fastest way to safeguard high-risk communities, stabalise health systems and drive a truly global economic recovery.

As winter comes we know that the next few months will be tough.

But by working together today and sharing life saving health supplies globally including personal protective equipment, supplies of oxygen, dexamethasone and vaccines when they’re proven to be safe and effective, we can save lives and get through this pandemic.

As Kim said we are one big global family.

I thank you.