Director-General of World Health Organisation (WHO), Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, says leaders from 40 countries have pledged to support research and development for vaccine, diagnostics and therapeutics with €7.4 billion.
Ghebreyesus disclosed this at a news conference on Monday, May 4, 2020 in Geneva, explaining that the fund would be used to carry out activities for COVID -19 research and development.
In a speech posted on the WHO website, Ghebreyesus was quoted as saying: “ACT Accelerator, to support the development, production and equitable distribution of vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics against COVID-19 was inaugurated 10 days ago.
“Today, leaders from 40 countries all over the world came together to support the ACT Accelerator through the COVID-19 Global Response International Pledging Event, hosted by the European Commission.
“During today’s event, some €7.4 billion was pledged for research and development for vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics.
“This was a powerful and inspiring demonstration of global solidarity.
“Today, countries came together not only to pledge their financial support, but also to pledge their commitment to ensuring all people can access life-saving tools for COVID-19; accelerating development of products, but at the same time, access for all.’’
According to him, recent advances in science are enabling the world to move at incredible speed to develop these tools.
“But the true measure of success will not only be how fast we can develop safe and effective tools – it will be how equally we can distribute them.
“None of us can accept a world in which some people are protected while others are not. Everybody should be protected.
“None of us are safe until all of us are safe.
“The potential for continued waves of infection of COVID-19 across the globe demands that every single person on the planet be protected from this disease,’’ he said.
Ghebreyesus said WHO remained committed to working with all countries and partners to accelerate the development and production of vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics, and to ensure their equitable distribution.
He said this is an opportunity for the world to come together to confront a common threat as well as to forge a common future; a future in which all people enjoy the right to the highest attainable standard of health and the products that deliver that right.
“That’s what we mean by health for all. We have been saying it for more than 70 years, since WHO was created.
“But I think given the experience we have now and the difficulties we’re going through, it’s time to make it happen: health for all.
“But one of the best tools is also one of the most basic: clean hands.’’ he said.
The director general said the simple act of cleaning hands could be the difference between life and death.
He added that it remained one of the most important public health measures for protecting individuals, families and communities against COVID-19 and many other diseases.
“Tomorrow is Hand Hygiene Day; a reminder of the importance of clean hands for health workers, and for all of us.
“At the same time, we must remember that millions of people around the world are not able to practice this most basic of precautions.
“Around the world, less than two-thirds of health care facilities are equipped with hand hygiene stations, and 3 billion people lack soap and water at home.
“This is an old problem that requires new and vastly increased attention.
“If we are to stop COVID-19 or any other source of infection, and keep health workers safe, we must dramatically increase investments in soap, access to water, and alcohol-based hand rubs,’’ he said.
Tuesday also coincides with the International Day of the Midwife.
Ghebreyesus said the Day also provides an opportunity to remember the vital role that midwives play all over the world in providing safe and effective care for women and newborns.
“Research shows that interventions delivered by midwives can avert over 80 per cent of all maternal deaths, stillbirths and neonatal deaths.
“The service of midwives is actually a lifeline for many.
“Childbirth can be one of the most precious moments in a woman’s life, but it can also be one of the most dangerous.
“Midwives are essential for guiding and caring for women through their entire pregnancy, and for the critical moment of childbirth.
“But we need more midwives in all countries, especially low-resource countries,’’ he said.
To mark Hand Hygiene Day and the International Day of the Midwife, Ghebreyesus called on people to stop what they’re doing at noon on Tuesday to clap for nurses and midwives.
“To thank them for their role in delivering safe and effective care – especially during this pandemic; they’re risking their lives to give lives to others,’’ he said.
By Cecilia Ologunagba