Oct. 20, 2020

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

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

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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.