MUMBAI, May 17, 2020: Declaring that “There is no silver bullet” to tackle current COVID-19 pandemic, World Health Organisation Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus today called for a whole-of-society, whole-of-government action against the ‘dangerous enemy.’
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, Dr Tedros said in his opening remarks at the first ever digital World Health Assembly in which 194 member nations are participating
“This a dangerous enemy, with a dangerous combination of features: this virus is efficient, fast, and fatal,” he said.
The 73rd WHA is in a virtual format owing to the coronavirus pandemic to which the DG said: “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, he said.
On COVID 19 Dr Tedros said: 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.”
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.
“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,” he said.
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.