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G20 urged to ‘fight’, ‘unite’, ‘ignite’ against COVID-19

Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, on Thursday, March 26, 2020 addressed Heads of State at the G20 Leaders’ Summit focused on COVID-19 and made a remarkable call.

G20 Osaka 2019
Leaders pose for a family photo at the G20 Summit in Osaka on Friday, June 28, 2019

He told them: “You have come together to confront the defining health crisis of our time: We are at war with a virus that threatens to tear us apart – if we let it.“

He welcomed the G20‘s initiative to find joint solutions and work together: “This is a global crisis that requires a global response.”

“Fight, unite, ignite”

Dr Ghebreyesus’ call was clear. First, he urged leaders to fight without excuses, without regrets – thanking countries who have already taken steps and urgently asking that they do more.

Second, he encouraged them to unite, stressing that no country can fight this alone, and calling on all countries to build on the solidarity already sparked by the crisis.

Third, he exhorted them to ignite a global movement to ensure this never happens again.

He welcomed G20 leaders‘ commitment “to do whatever it takes to overcome the pandemic” to protect lives and livelihoods, as well as restore confidence and shore up stability currently threatened in trade and other sectors, and to commit to take all necessary health measures and seek to ensure adequate financing to contain the pandemic and protect people, especially the most vulnerable.“

The G20 committed to support and further strengthen WHO’s mandate in coordinating the response, and called for full funding of WHO‘s Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan.

G20 members pledged to work together to increase research and development funding for vaccines and medicines, strengthen international scientific cooperation, and leverage digital technologies.

In turn, they tasked WHO and other relevant organisations with assessing gaps in pandemic preparedness and report the findings of this assessment to the G20 Finance and Health Ministers, in order to establish a global initiative on pandemic preparedness and response together.

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