Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, the World Health Organisation (WHO) Director- General, has urged all countries to support a pandemic preparedness treaty, warning that it would be a “monumental error” to think that the danger of COVID-19 had passed.
In his closing remarks at the World Health Assembly (WHA), on Monday, Ghebreyesus said that a potential international treaty would be discussed at a special session of WHO members in November.
The WHA, WHO’s highest decision-making body, which began on May 24, focused on ending the pandemic.
Although COVID-19 cases and deaths were declining globally, the director-general insisted that the way out was through “tailored and consistent” public health measures in combination with equitable vaccination.
The UN health agency chief urged all Member States to commit to vaccinating at least 10 per cent of the global population by the end of September 2021, to reach at least 30 per cent by year’s end.
“One day, hopefully soon, the pandemic will be behind us, but the psychological scars will remain for those who have lost loved ones.
“The scars will remain for health workers who have been stretched beyond breaking point, and the millions of people of all ages confronted with months of loneliness and isolation,’’ he said.
Ghebreyesus emphasised that the UN agency needed more funding for the technical support and guidance that the agency provided to countries.
“The training of health workers, the critical supplies, the surge deployments and much more…It all has to be funded. We cannot pay people with praise.
“Member States can only truly keep their own people safe if they are accountable to each other at the global level,” he said.
Ghebreyesus maintained that the pandemic had been characterised by the lack of sharing of data, information, pathogens, technologies and resources.
He insisted that a pandemic treaty would improve early warning on potential global health threats, promote stockpiling and production of pandemic supplies, allow for equitable access to vaccines, tests and treatments and provide an emergency workforce to handle emergencies.
“An international agreement of any kind must be designed and owned by all Member States; it must be truly representative and inclusive.
“It must be thorough and carefully considered, but it must also be urgent. We don’t have time”, he stressed.
According to him, globally, there had been over 169 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported to WHO, including 3.5 million deaths, as at 30 May, 2021.
The theme of the 74th session of the WHA was: “Ending this pandemic, preventing the next: building together a healthier, safer and fairer world”. (NAN)