May. 20, 2020

EU proposal for a CONSOLIDATED zero draft on a WHA73: "Covid-19 Response"

WHA73, 17-21 May 2020

Agenda item XX

Zero Draft Resolution Text of 15.04.2020

The Seventy-third World Health Assembly,

Having considered the report of the Director General on the current Covid-19 pandemic,

PP1 Expressing deep concern at the COVID-19 pandemic and its immediate and long-term burden on health systems and its severe global impact on societies, economy,  physical and mental health, and wellbeing, particularly among vulnerable groups and people in vulnerable situations, including populations in conflict-affected areas and settings prone to natural disasters;

PP2 Recalling the declaration of a Public Health Emergency of International Concern and the temporary recommendations issued on January 30 by the WHO Director General, based on the recommendations of the WHO Emergency Committee;

PP3 Noting General Assembly resolution A/74/L.52 on the "Global Solidarity to Fight COVID-19", the International Conference of the Red Cross and the Red Crescent resolution 33IC/19/R3 entitled “Time to act: tackling epidemics and pandemics together”, as well as WHO’s Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan (SPRP) and the Global Humanitarian Response Plan for COVID-19; [Add Mexico UNGA resolution if and when this is passed]

PP4 [Reaffirming resolution WHA73/xx entitled “Strengthening Preparedness for Health Emergencies; Implementation of International Health Regulations (IHR, 2005)” and the importance of investing in health systems strengthening and preparedness for future pandemics, for, in an interconnected world, the world is only as strong as the weakest health system;]

PP5 Reaffirming that the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health as a fundamental right of every human being, without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition[1];

PP6 Further recognizing the need to respect the rule of law, fundamental freedoms and human rights of all, including persons in vulnerable situations, all across the spectrum of the response to COVID-19;

PP7 Noting the continued relevance during the COVID-19 pandemic of the objective of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 and of leaving no one behind, inter alia, by leveraging the Global Action Plan for Healthy Lives and Well-being for All, and Recognising the commitments of world leaders to Universal Health Coverage at the United Nations High-Level Meeting “Universal Health Coverage: Moving Together to Build a Healthier World”;

PP8 Acknowledging that firm commitment to solidarity and shared responsibility at all levels of governance needs to be the leading principles/values in the COVID-19 response, including in the multilateral coordinated response, taking into account the benefits of the triple dividend available from investing in health on economic growth, public health, and employment;

PP9 Commending the WHO leadership and broad support to Member States in the COVID-19 response;

PP10 Reiterating the obligation for all countries to fully implement and comply with the International Health Regulations (2005) (IHR);

PP11 Recognising the different levels of preparedness among countries, including the different capacities of their health systems for surveillance, diagnosis and response as well as the need to scale up health capacity for testing, tracing, quarantine, isolation and treatment, and vaccination;

PP12 Recognising the importance of a multisectoral Whole-of-Government, Whole-of-Society and a human rights-based approach, in the Framework of the SDGs, to addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as ensuring protection of personal data, data security, ethics, and fundamental rights;

PP13 Recognising the need of the continued functioning of health systems to ensure their effective contribution to the COVID-19 response, the provision of essential public health functions and the continuation of other necessary health services to address all health needs of their populations, in particular in humanitarian crises, including by eliminating barriers to the mobility of all front-line workers in order to avoid service disruptions;

PP14 Underlining the serious challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic and its response pose to people’s mental health and social wellbeing, and stressing the need to prevent and address them, including by meeting social security needs and through the provision of a range of mental health and psychosocial support services, including peer support, that are based on respect for human rights and provided in the community;  paying particular attention to the needs of health professionals and other frontline workers;

PP15 Recognising high risk to front-line health workers, first responders and providers of other critical services and the need to ensure their protection and occupational safety, including in communities, and their access to personal protection equipment and other necessary commodities;

PP16 Recognising the need to achieve equitable access and availability of appropriate quality protective and other equipment, medical devices, medicines, vaccines and other health technologies related to COVID-19 and vaccines by scaling up research and development, clinical trials, and production, engaging early with regulators, as well as addressing market and supply-chain failures;

PP17 Recognizing the links between human, animal and environmental health and food safety and adopting a One Health approach as well taking into account the risk of antimicrobial resistance, are crucial in the successful response to the COVID-19 pandemic;

PP18 Acknowledging that a long-term, sustained community engagement is crucial for prevention and early detection of outbreaks, controlling amplification and spread, ensuring trust and social cohesion, and fostering effective responses, while ensuring that all social security needs are met;

PP19 Stressing the importance of engagement with and communication to the public to address COVID-19 disinformation and misinformation as well as of countering cyber attacks;

PP20 Recognising the need to adopt gender-responsive measures for the protection of health professionals and frontline workers since a large percentage of them are women;

PP21 Recognising the importance of planning and preparing for the recovery phase, including to mitigate the impact of the pandemic and of the response on society, public health, human rights and the economy;

OP1 Commends the dedication, efforts, hard work, quick and timely response, above and beyond the call of duty, of health professionals, other frontline workers and WHO staff, across the globe in responding to COVID-19;

OP2 Recognizes population-wide immunization against COVID-19 as a global public good for health and the crucial role of quality, safe, and efficacious vaccines therein;

OP3 URGES Member States[2] in their COVID-19 response to:

OP3.1 Take necessary measures to ensure the continued functioning of all essential public services and health systems in the COVID-19 response, by securing the safety and access of health professionals and other frontline workers, particularly in humanitarian crises;

OP3.2 Ensure that adequate capacity and knowledge are available and used to develop, implement and continuously adapt national action plans on coordinated cross-sectorial response to the COVID-19 pandemic, using the measures taken also to build permanent and sustainable health emergency preparedness and response capacity, and show solidarity to other countries by supporting their responses where possible;

OP3.3 Mindful of their obligation to fully implement the IHR, provide  WHO in a timely manner with information related to the COVID-19 pandemic required by the IHR (2005), and share knowledge, data, and lessons learned with WHO and other Member States;

OP3.4 Adopt a human rights-based approach across the whole spectrum of the response to COVID-19, including during the duration of states of emergency, in particular concerning temporary containment measures such as quarantine, paying particular attention to the needs of the most vulnerable groups, people in vulnerable situations and those in need, avoiding stigmatization and discrimination;

OP3.5 Ensure that WHO guidelines for containing and mitigating the outbreak are followed, taking into account the national context and optimal use of available resources;

OP3.6 Ensure access to a range of mental health and psychosocial support services, based on respect for human rights and available in the community, to protect and promote the mental health of the population, and paying particular attention to the needs of health professionals and other frontline workers;

OP3.7 Ensure access, without discrimination, to reliable information from authoritative sources on the pandemic, on prevention and on access to testing and health services , including to demote misleading content and to address misinformation and disinformation, , including misleading content and explore the opportunities of digital technologies in particular through the use of big data and artificial intelligence, while respecting ethical principles and ensuring data security, and the protection of  fundamental rights and  personal data;

OP3.8 As far as existing international treaties allow, remove the existing barriers in access quality protective equipment, medical devices and other technologies, medicines, and vaccines related to COVID-19;

OP3.9 Invest in and support research and development of diagnostics, treatments, therapeutics, medicines, and vaccines as appropriate and to sustainably strengthen national R&D capacities for the current and future outbreaks, and collaborate in order to harmonise efforts as appropriate, with all relevant international actors in this field;

OP3.10 Ensure the rational and prudent use of antimicrobials and ensure the continued implementation of national action plans on antimicrobial resistance;

OP3.11 Strengthen actions to include, engage and involve women in all stages of decision-making processes, and mainstream a gender perspective in the COVID-19 response and recovery;

OP3.12 Prioritize community engagement and involvement, training as well as capacity-building in all COVID-19 response efforts, building trust and social cohesion, by engaging multiple stakeholders from all sectors and involving local and community-based health and humanitarian workers and organisations in sustainable health emergency preparedness and response;

OP4 CALLS on international actors, partners, civil society, public health institutions and the private sector to:

OP4.1 Support countries in the implementation of their multisectoral national action plans and in strengthening their healthy systems in COVID-19 response and in guaranteeing the provision of other public health functions;

OP4.2 Work collaboratively at international level to develop, test and produce safe, effective, quality diagnostics,  medicines and vaccines for the COVID-19 response, and to facilitate the equitable and affordable access of people to them, including through  voluntarily pooling their intellectual property for all COVID-19-related medical interventions;

OP4.3 Cooperate closely with relevant regional organisations, Member States, with the WHO, with United Nations system and the other relevant international organizations, to ensure and scale-up the production of, and equitable access to, adequate supplies, basic equipment, diagnostics, therapeutics, medicines and vaccines, in order to achieve an optimal and timely response in all countries;

OP4.4 Take active measures to support the efforts of UN organisations and countries in  disseminating reliable information and in countering misinformation and disinformation by using media, big data, artificial intelligence and digital communication, ensuring personal data protection, data security, including by preventing cyber attacks as well as respect for ethical principles and human rights;


OP5.1 Work with the United Nations Secretary-General on a comprehensive and coordinated response across the UN system and on assisting countries in their response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and Continue to assume leadership on health in the UN system overall response, to support countries’ national responses, and to act as the  health cluster lead in the UN humanitarian response;

OP5.2 Continue to strengthen coordination efforts with UN agencies and other major multilateral organizations involved in the COVID-19 response such as signatory agencies of the Global Action Plan for Healthy Lives and Well-Being, and to facilitate a coordinated response among regional and local actors in the public and private sector as well as civil society, bilateral agencies and development banks;

OP5.3 Provide assistance to Member States in ensuring the continued effective functioning of their health systems in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic and in the undisrupted provision of essential public health functions and necessary health services, as well as in taking the actions  required under the International Health Regulations (IHR, 2005) during the COVID-19 pandemic;

OP5.4 Regularly inform member states on the allocation of funding and the results achieved allocated to the WHO Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan (SPRP) in a transparent, accountable and swift manner, in particular on the support given to countries with weak health systems and the way how funds are being made available to implementing bodies and country authorities and to provide a report to the 148th Session of the Executive Board;

OP5.6  Assist all countries and regions, upon request, and in line with the SPRP, in developing, implementing and adapting their National Action Plans for Health Security (NAPHS) and Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Plans (PIPP) to COVID-19 pandemic, in concert with, as appropriate, the UN resident coordinators and humanitarian coordinators, including in order to take measures that contribute to sustainable health emergency preparedness;

OP5.7 Maintain and update regularly the WHO COVID-19 Partners Platform or other publicly accessible portal to document country needs and donor offers for funding preparedness and response efforts;

OP5.8 Compile, share and exchange knowledge of academic and other research on the COVID-19 pandemic and leverage the role of the WHO Academy in this regard;

OP5.9 Continue to provide health workers and communities with learning tools aimed at improving their knowledge and skills related to the COVID-19 pandemic;

OP5.10 Update, as the situation evolves, the list of critical items for COVID-19 response, and continue assessing the magnitude and nature of global shortages and supporting national authorities in their supply-related planning;

OP5.11 Continue to develop necessary guidelines, protocols, other normative products and technical guidance for COVID-19 response, including on preventive measures, standardized diagnostics and clinical protocols, based on expert scientific advice and translated in WHO’s six official languages, to make them publicly available in a timely manner and make easily available the latest scientific evidence and facilitate the application of the main conclusions in practice;

OP5.12 Continue to provide guidance on how to promote Mental Health and psycho-social wellbeing to strengthen the resilience of people and communities in order to reduce the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic;

OP5.13 Assist countries in building up their national digital capacities and facilitate open access to safe digital health solutions that can be used in the implementation of response measures, including by facilitating the sharing of best practices with other countries;

OP5.14 Continue to counter misinformation and disinformation and supporting Member States and other partners in this regard;

OP5.15 Continue to work with researchers, research funding organisations, the private sector, philanthropic organisations and further partners to ensure a focussed and coordinated R&D effort to develop and scale up countermeasures, including treatments and diagnostic tests for COVID-19;

OP5.16 Ensure that the WHO prequalification programme, working with regulatory authorities in Member States and at the regional level, facilitates the rapid processing and assessment of COVID-19 related requests;

OP5.17 Draft a plan, in consultation with Member States[3], in line with their respective obligations resulting from international treaties and with inputs from relevant international organizations including WIPO, GAVI, UNITAID, the Medicines Patent Pool, CEPI,  the Global Fund to fight Aids, TB and Malaria, and UNICEF, to achieve equitable access to quality, safe, and efficacious COVID-19 vaccines and other health technologies necessary for COVID-19  response, for  consideration of the WHO Governing Bodies;

OP5.18 Plan for an evaluation, to be conducted in consultation with Member States at the earliest appropriate moment, on lessons learnt from the international health response to COVID-19, addressing the long-term consequences on health, , in order to assess, in line with the statement made by G20 leaders, gaps in pandemic preparedness with a view to establishing a global initiative on pandemic preparedness and response capitalizing on existing structures and programmes to align priorities in global preparedness[4];

OP5.19 Report to the 74th World Health Assembly, through the Executive Board, on the implementation of this resolution.



[1] WHO Constitution

[2] And regional economic intergration organisations as appropriate

[3] And regional economic integration organisations as appropriate

[4] Extraordinary G20 Leaders’ Summit Statement on COVID-19

May. 20, 2020





Permanent Delegation to the United Nations Office

and other international organisations in Geneva





The Permanent Delegation of the European Union to the United Nations and other International Organisations in Geneva presents its compliments to the World Health Organisation and to the Permanent Missions in Geneva, and, in the name of EU and its Member States, has the honour to inform of the following:

We understand that the 73rd World Health Assembly may meet in a virtual session in May with a single substantive point on the agenda – COVID-19. We are living in extraordinary times and we see this Assembly as an extraordinary opportunity for Health Ministers of all WHO Member States to demonstrate their solidarity and their common resolve to overcome the challenges we all face in responding to this pandemic.

This virus knows no borders and neither should our collective response. It is only by working together on the response, in cooperation with all partners and in support and under the leadership of WHO that we will prevail. 

To that end, and without prejudice to any Decision of the WHO Executive Board on then organisation of a World Health Assembly in May, the Delegation of the European Union is pleased to send herewith an initial draft for a Resolution by the 73rd WHA. We do this because time is of the essence and we wanted to share our thoughts with all of you as soon as possible. Our intention is to organise an inclusive process to permit informal consultations to take place on this text and we are currently working with the Secretariat on the best way to organise these. We have also created a functional mailbox at the Delegation DELEGATION-GENEVA-COVID-CONSULT@eeas.europa.eu to receive any comments or suggestions on the draft text.

The draft resolution addresses a range of actions for Member States, partners, non-state actors and the WHO-Secretariat in the overall COVID-19 response. It also provides an opportunity for all of us to salute the efforts, above and beyond the call of duty, of health professionals and frontline workers everywhere, as well as to the WHO staff, for their dedication and competent work on behalf of all of us.

The EU and its Member States would be honoured to count on your country's support and co-sponsorship.

The Permanent Delegation of the European Union to the United Nations and other International Organisations in Geneva would like to take this opportunity to renew the expression of its highest consideration to the Secretariat of the World Health Organisation and to the Permanent Missions in Geneva.


Permanent Delegation of the European Union

to the United Nations

and other International Organisations

in Geneva


Geneva, 15 April 2020

May. 19, 2020

WHO Director-General's opening remarks at the World Health Assembly

18 May 2020
President Sommaruga,

President Ramaphosa,

President Xi,

President Macron, 

President Moon,

Chancellor Merkel,

Prime Minister Mottley,

Mr Secretary-General, 

President of the World Health Assembly,

Excellencies, colleagues and friends,

I would like to start by thanking all of our distinguished guests for their support today. 

Thank you for taking the time to address this important Assembly. 

Thank you for your efforts to respond to COVID-19, at home and abroad.

And thank you for your strong support for WHO at this critical time.

My sisters and brothers,


As you know, this year is the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife.

This Assembly was intended to be a moment of recognition for the incredible contribution that nurses and midwives make every day, in every country.

The pandemic has robbed us of that opportunity. But it has only served to illustrate why nurses, midwives and all health workers are so important.

Nurses and midwives have been on the frontlines of the fight against COVID-19, putting themselves in harm’s way. Many have made the ultimate sacrifice in service of humanity.

Last month, WHO published the first State of the World’s Nursing report.

It shows that the world is facing a shortfall of 6 million nurses to achieve and sustain universal health coverage.

But it also provides a roadmap for governments to invest in nursing, to fill that gap and progress towards universal health coverage. Health for all.

Now more than ever, the world needs nurses and midwives.

Please join me, wherever you are, in standing to show your appreciation for these true health heroes.

We have come together as the nations of the world to confront the defining health crisis of our time. 


We come in grief for those we have lost;

We come with concern for those still fighting for their lives;

We come with determination to triumph over this common threat; 

And we come with hope for the future. 

The world has confronted several pandemics before. This is the first caused by a coronavirus.

This is a dangerous enemy, with a dangerous combination of features: this virus is efficient, fast, and fatal. 

It can operate in the dark, spread silently if we’re not paying attention, then suddenly explode if we aren’t ready. And moves like a bushfire. 

We have seen the same pattern repeated in cities and countries the world over.

We must treat this virus with the respect and attention it deserves.

More than 4-and-a-half million cases of COVID-19 have now been reported to WHO, and more than 300,000 people have lost their lives.

But numbers don’t even begin to tell the story of this pandemic.

Each loss of life leaves a scar for families, communities and nations.

The health impacts of the pandemic extend far beyond the sickness and death caused by the virus itself.

The disruption to health systems threatens to unwind decades of progress against maternal and child mortality, HIV, malaria, tuberculosis, noncommunicable diseases, mental health, polio and many other of the most urgent health threats.

And yet this is so much more than a health crisis.

Lives and livelihoods have been lost or upended.

Hundreds of millions of people have lost their jobs.

Fear and uncertainty abound.

The global economy is headed for its sharpest contraction since the Great Depression.

The pandemic has brought out the best – and worst – of humanity:

Fortitude and fear; solidarity and suspicion; rapport and recrimination. 

This contagion exposes the fault lines, inequalities, injustices and contradictions of our modern world.

It has highlighted our strengths, and our vulnerabilities.

Science has been hailed and scorned.

Nations have come together as never before, and geopolitical divisions have been thrown into sharp relief.

We have seen what is possible with cooperation, and what we risk without it.

The pandemic is a reminder of the intimate and delicate relationship between people and planet.

Any efforts to make our world safer are doomed to fail unless they address the critical interface between people and pathogens, and the existential threat of climate change that is making our earth less habitable.

For all the economic, military and technological might of nations, we have been humbled by this very small microbe.

If this virus is teaching us anything, it’s humility. Time for humility. 

Six months ago, it would have been inconceivable to most that the world’s biggest cities would fall eerily quiet; that shops, restaurants, schools and workplaces would be closed; that global travel would grind to a standstill; that simply shaking hands could be life-threatening.

Terms once used only by epidemiologists, like “reproduction number”, “physical distancing” and “contact tracing” have become common parlance. 

In less than five months, the pandemic has encircled the globe.

All countries have faced challenges in coming to grips with this virus, rich and poor, large and small.

Low-income countries, small island developing states and those suffering from violence and conflict are trying to confront this threat in the most challenging of circumstances.

How do you practice physical distancing when you live in crowded conditions?

How do you stay at home when you have to work to feed your family?

How do you practice hand hygiene when you lack clean water?

Some countries are succeeding in preventing widespread community transmission; 

some have issued stay-at-home orders and imposed severe social restrictions to suppress community transmission; 

some are still bracing for the worst;

and some are now assessing how to ease the restrictions that have exacted such a heavy social and economic toll.

WHO fully understands and supports the desire of countries to get back on their feet and back to work.

It’s precisely because we want the fastest possible global recovery that we urge countries to proceed with caution.

Countries that move too fast, without putting in place the public health architecture to detect and suppress transmission, run a real risk of handicapping their own recovery.

Early serology studies are painting a consistent picture: even in the worst-affected regions, the proportion of the population with the tell-tale antibodies is no more than 20 percent, and in most places, less than 10 percent.

In other words: the majority of the world’s population remains susceptible to this virus.

The risk remains high and we have a long road to travel.

Over the past few months, we have learned an enormous amount about how to prevent infections and save lives.


But there is no single action that has made the difference.

Not testing alone. Not contact tracing alone. Not isolation, quarantine, hand hygiene or physical distancing alone.

The countries that have done well have done it all. 

This is the comprehensive approach that WHO has called for consistently.

There is no silver bullet. There is no simple solution. There is no panacea. There is no one-size-fits-all approach.

It takes hard work, fidelity to science, learning and adapting as you go, and difficult decisions, of course. 

But there are many common components that must be part of every national strategy:

A whole-of-government and whole-of-society response that engages and empowers people and communities to keep themselves and others safe;

The commitment and capacity to find, isolate, test and care for every case, and trace and quarantine every contact;

And special attention to vulnerable groups like people living in nursing homes, refugee camps, prisons and detention centres.


Since day one, WHO has stood shoulder-to-shoulder with countries in these darkest of hours.


WHO sounded the alarm early, and we sounded it often.

We notified countries, issued guidance for health workers within 10 days, and declared a global health emergency — our highest level of alert — on the 30th of January. At the time, there were less than 100 cases and no deaths outside China.

We have provided technical guidance and strategic advice, based on the latest science and experience.

We have supported countries to adapt and implement that guidance.

We have shipped diagnostics, personal protective equipment, oxygen and other medical supplies to more than 120 countries.

We have trained more than 2.6 million health workers, in 23 languages. 

We have driven research and development, through the Solidarity Trial.

We have called for equitable access to vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics through the ACT Accelerator; 

We have informed, engaged and empowered people.

We have fought the infodemic, combating myths with reliable information.

And we have called consistently for the two essential ingredients for conquering this virus: national unity and global solidarity.


We all have lessons to learn from the pandemic. 


Every country and every organization must examine its response and learn from its experience.

WHO is committed to transparency, accountability and continuous improvement. For us, change is a constant. 

In fact, the existing independent accountability mechanisms are already in operation, since the pandemic started.

The Independent Oversight Advisory Committee has today published its first report on the pandemic, with several recommendations for both the Secretariat and Member States.

In that spirit, we welcome the proposed resolution before this Assembly, which calls for a step-wise process of impartial, independent and comprehensive evaluation. 

To be truly comprehensive, such an evaluation must encompass the entirety of the response by all actors, in good faith. 

So, I will initiate an independent evaluation at the earliest appropriate moment to review experience gained and lessons learned, and to make recommendations to improve national and global pandemic preparedness and response.

But one thing is abundantly clear. The world must never be the same.

We do not need a review to tell us that we must all do everything in our power to ensure this never happens again. 

Whatever lessons there are to learn from this pandemic, the greatest failing would be to not learn from them, and to leave the world in the same vulnerable state it was before. 

If there is anything positive to come from this pandemic, it must be a safer and more resilient world.

This is not a new message.

Reviews after SARS, the H1N1 pandemic and the West African Ebola epidemic highlighted shortcomings in global health security, and made numerous recommendations for countries to address those gaps.

Some were implemented; others went unheeded.

The SARS outbreak gave rise to the revision of the International Health Regulations, in 2005; 

The H1N1 pandemic saw the creation of the Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Framework;

and the Ebola outbreak of 2014 and 15 led to the establishment of the Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility, the WHO Emergencies Programme and the Independent Oversight Advisory Committee.

The world doesn’t need another plan, another system, another mechanism, another committee or another organization.

It needs to strengthen, implement and finance the systems and organizations it has – including WHO. Many leaders who have spoken today have raised these issues: implementing, supporting WHO, and financing. 

The world can no longer afford the short-term amnesia that has characterised its response to health security for too long. 

The time has come to weave together the disparate strands of global health security into an unbreakable chain – a comprehensive framework for epidemic and pandemic preparedness.

The world does not lack the tools, the science, or the resources to make it safer from pandemics. What is has lacked is the sustained commitment to use the tools, the science and the resources it has. 

That must change, and it must change today.

Today I am calling on all nations to resolve that they will do everything it takes to ensure that the 2020 coronavirus pandemic is never repeated.

I am calling on all nations to invest in strengthening and implementing the many tools at our disposal – especially the global treaty that underpins global health security: the International Health Regulations.

To be successful, we must all commit to mutual ownership and accountability.

One way to do that, proposed by the Africa Group last year, is through a system of universal periodic review, in which countries agree to a regular and transparent review of each nation’s preparedness.


Since my election at this assembly three years ago, I have made a priority of transforming WHO into an organization that is agile and responsive, focused on outcomes and impact.


Two years ago, I presented – and this Assembly approved – the cornerstone of our transformation: WHO’s 13th General Programme of Work.

At its heart are the ambitious “triple billion” targets: 

1 billion more people enjoying better health and well-being.

1 billion more people benefiting from universal health coverage;

And 1 billion more people better protected from health emergencies;

These are the targets that the world has set itself to achieve by 2023, to get on track and stay on track for the Sustainable Development Goals.

The WHO Results Report, launched today, provides a comprehensive picture of what WHO, its Member States and partners have achieved in the past two years. 

On healthy populations, we’ve made important progress to improve the air people breathe, the food they eat, the water they drink, the roads they use, and the conditions in which they live and work are the most important, actually, in bringing health.

On universal health coverage, the world came together last year to endorse the political declaration on UHC – an unprecedented commitment to the ideal of health for all.

We have expanded access to prevention, testing and treatment for HIV, tuberculosis, malaria, hepatitis C, hypertension, diabetes, cancer and more.

And to keep the world safe, WHO has investigated and, when necessary, responded to more than 900 events in 141 countries. 

That includes coordinating a huge and complex response to the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, complicated by violence, a mobile population and a weak health system.

All of these efforts have been supported by an increased focus on science, evidence and data.

In the coming year, we will launch the WHO Academy to provide training for millions more health workers around the world. 

And the WHO Foundation will be launched in the next few weeks, to broaden WHO's donor base.

I am proud of the progress WHO has made in these and many other areas.

However, much work remains to be done.

Even before COVID-19, the world was off track for the SDGs.

The pandemic threatens to set us back even further.

It exploits and exacerbates existing gaps in gender equality, poverty, hunger and more. 

Already we have seen the impact of the pandemic on immunization campaigns and many other essential health services.

But the challenges we face cannot be an excuse to abandon hope of achieving the “triple billion” targets or the SDGs. 

On the contrary, they must serve as motivation to redouble our efforts, and to work aggressively in pursuit of the healthier, safer, fairer world we all want.

Although COVID-19 is rightly the focus of the world’s attention now, we must not lose focus on sustaining and accelerating other initiatives that have saved millions of lives in recent years – like the work of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.

Over the past 20 years, Gavi has supported countries to vaccinate 760 million children, preventing more than 13 million deaths. 

Gavi has set an ambitious goal to immunize 300 million more children with 18 vaccines by 2025. 

We call on the global community to support Gavi’s upcoming replenishment, hosted by the U.K., to ensure that it is fully funded for this life-saving work.



Last week, my friend Dr Suwit from Thailand sent me a message. This is what he said:


‘Actually, COVID has demonstrated how WHO’s “triple billion” goals are interconnected.

‘Universal health coverage plays big roles in the COVID response in many countries.

‘And healthy lives mean less deaths from COVID.’

I couldn’t agree more.

COVID-19 is not just a global health emergency, it is a vivid demonstration of the fact that there is no health security without resilient health systems, or without addressing the social, economic, commercial and environmental determinants of health.

More than ever, the pandemic illustrates why investing in health must be at the centre of development. I will repeat this: More than ever, the pandemic illustrates why investing in health must be at the centre of development.

We’re learning the hard way that health is not a luxury; it’s a necessity. It is a necessity.

Health is not a reward for development; it is a prerequisite. 

Health is not a cost; it’s an investment.

Health is a pathway to security, prosperity and peace.


My brothers and sisters,


40 years ago, the nations of the world came together under the banner of WHO to rid the world of smallpox. 

They showed that when solidarity triumphs over ideology, anything is possible. 

The COVID-19 pandemic is posing a similar threat – not just to human health, but to the human spirit.

We have a long road ahead in our struggle against this virus.

The pandemic has tested, strengthened and strained the bonds of fellowship between nations. 

But it has not broken them.

The COVID-19 pandemic is asking us two fundamental questions:

What sort of world do we want? 

And what sort of WHO do we want? 

The answer to the first question will determine the answer to the second. 

Now more than ever, we need a healthier world.

Now more than ever, we need a safer world. 

Now more than ever, we need a fairer world. 

Healthy, safe and fair. 

And now more than ever, we need a stronger WHO.

There is no other way forward but together.

I thank you. Thank you so much.

May. 19, 2020

19 May 2020
President Duque Márquez of Colombia,

President Benitez of Paraguay,

Prime Minister Tshering of Bhutan,

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez of Spain,

Prime Minister Conte of Italy,

Prime Minister Natano of Tuvalu,

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc of Viet Nam,

President von der Leyen of the European Commission,

Excellencies, my dear colleagues and friends,

Last year, I had the honour of visiting several islands in the Pacific, including Fiji, Tahiti, Tuvalu and Tonga, where I was welcomed by a choir of nurses.

When we originally planned this year’s World Health Assembly, we invited that choir from Tonga – a choir of nurses and midwives – to perform, to mark the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife.

COVID-19 has deprived us of that privilege, but today I am wearing this shirt from Tonga, which I got actually from the Minister, as a gesture of thanks and solidarity with our friends from the Pacific.

Of course, our President is from the Bahamas, and I think because of the cultural similarities, my shirt also represents the Caribbean.

So I would like to dedicate my closing speech to the choir that we were expecting to join us from Tonga.

And you might know, during my visit, I was even given a Tongan name. My Tongan name is Vaitoa’i moui Mapuavaea. This is a typical Tongan name, and I’m so honoured.

TO my Tongan friends and the rest of the Pacific, we hope you will be able to join us at next year’s Assembly, and do what we planned to do.

Now, to the rest of my speech. I offer my deep thanks to the many Member States who have expressed their support and solidarity at this Assembly, and throughout the pandemic.

I have been impressed and inspired by the commitment of so many countries to fighting the virus and saving lives.

I also thank the Regional Directors for their messages, which were played last night, and for their continuing efforts to support countries.

I thank Member States for adopting the resolution, which calls for an independent and comprehensive evaluation of the international response – including, but not limited to, WHO’s performance.

As I said yesterday, I will initiate such an evaluation at the earliest appropriate moment.

We welcome any initiative to strengthen global health security, and to strengthen WHO, and to be more safe.

As always, WHO remains fully committed to transparency, accountability and continuous improvement. We want accountability more than anyone.

I thank Dr Felicity Harvey and the members of the Independent Oversight Advisory Committee for their continuous work to review WHO’s work in health emergencies, and in particular for their report on the COVID-19 response published yesterday, that covers from the start of the pandemic until April.

Checking and learning our lessons is in WHO’s DNA, and that’s what this report shows. I hope the recommendations of the independent committee will be taken seriously by Member States. Some of the recommendations are to WHO, and we will take our share seriously.

WHO’s focus now is fighting the pandemic with every tool at our disposal.

Our focus is on saving lives. At the end of the day, what matters is life. That should be at the centre of everything we do, and everything we say.

I’ve been heartened by the way countries have shared experiences best practices through our regular Member State briefings and at this Assembly.

We will continue providing strategic leadership to coordinate the global response, and support efforts by countries.

We will continue providing the world with epidemiological information and analysis.

We will continue to keep the world informed and give people and communities the information they need to keep themselves and each other safe.

We will continue shipping diagnostics, personal protective equipment and other medical supplies all over the world.

We will continue bringing together leading experts from around the world to develop technical advice, based on the best science.

We will continue driving research and development to develop evidence about vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics.

We will continue working with countries and all relevant partners to ensure equitable access to the tools to prevent, detect and treat COVID-19.

We will continue supporting countries to prepare and respond.

We will continue working with countries to sustain essential health services.

We will continue to work day and night to support the most vulnerable countries and populations.

We will continue supporting countries to achieve the “triple billion” targets and the Sustainable Development Goals.

And we will continue supporting countries to build resilient health systems, based on primary health care, to progress towards our shared goal of universal health coverage.


My brothers and sisters, dear colleagues and friends,

COVID-19 has robbed us of people we love;

It has robbed us of lives and livelihoods;

It has shaken the foundations of our world;

It threatens to tear at the fabric of international cooperation.

But it has also reminded us that for all our differences, we are one human race, and we are stronger together.

We may speak different languages, but we share the same DNA;

We may adhere to different faiths, but we share the same aspirations for a peaceful and harmonious world;

From east to west, north to south, everybody wants peace, development and health – nothing else, that’s what human beings want, that’s what humanity wants.

We may have different cultures and traditions, but we share the same planet.

For everything COVID-19 has taken from us, it has also given us something:

A reminder of what really matters;

And the opportunity to forge a common future.

Dark and difficult days may lie ahead, but guided by science, together we will overcome.

Let hope be the antidote to fear.

Let solidarity be the antidote to division.

Let our shared humanity be the antidote to our shared threat.

Now, more than ever.

Thank you. Xie xie. Merci beaucoup. Spasiba. Muchas gracias.

And to our Muslim brothers and sisters who are fasting, shukran jazeelan, and we wish you Eid Mubarak.

Thank you so much. Together we will overcome this challenge. Nothing will be difficult to address when the human spirit wills it.

I thank you.

May. 19, 2020

“Let our shared humanity be the antidote to our shared threat. “-Dr Tedros
19 May 2020 Media release Geneva
At today’s meeting of the 73rd World Health Assembly —its first-ever to be held virtually—delegates adopted a landmark resolution to bring the world together to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

The resolution, co-sponsored by more than 130 countries, was adopted by consensus.

It calls for the intensification of efforts to control the pandemic, and for equitable access to and fair distribution of all essential health technologies and products to combat the virus. It also calls for an independent and comprehensive evaluation of the global response, including, but not limited to, WHO’s performance.

As WHO convened ministers of health from almost every country in the world, the consistent message throughout the two-day meeting—including from the 14 heads of state participating in the opening and closing sessions —was that global unity is the most powerful tool to combat the outbreak. The resolution is a concrete manifestation of this call, and a roadmap for controlling the outbreak.

In his closing remarks, WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said “COVID-19 has robbed us of people we love. It’s robbed us of lives and livelihoods; it’s shaken the foundations of our world; it threatens to tear at the fabric of international cooperation. But it’s also reminded us that for all our differences, we are one human race, and we are stronger together.”

The World Health Assembly will reconvene later in the year.
“Let our shared humanity be the antidote to our shared threat. “-Dr Tedros