The World Health Organisation (WHO), says the majority of the world’s population remain susceptible to coronavirus (COVID-19) as the risk remained high.
WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, said this at the ongoing World Health Assembly held in Geneva.
This is the first time the assembly which is WHO’s main governing body, will convene virtually.
Ghebreyesus, in a speech posted on WHO website, said more than four-and-a-half million cases of COVID-19 had been reported to WHO, and more than 300,000 people had lost their lives.
“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,’’ he said.
According to him, 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,’’ he said.
The director-general said since day one, WHO had stood shoulder-to-shoulder with countries in these darkest of hours.
In addition, Ghebreyesus said WHO sounded the alarm early, and sounded it often.
He said WHO had notified countries, issued guidance for health workers within 10 days, and declared a global health emergency.
“Our highest level of alert — on Jan. 30. 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,” he said.
The director-general told the assembly that the world have lessons to learn from the pandemic, adding that every country and every organisation 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,’’ he said.
The two-day World Health Assembly is holding as WHO is struggling to stop the spread of the COVID-19 and map out easing of associate stay-at-home orders and lockdowns.
Member states are discussing a resolution on improving access to COVID-19 diagnostics, and pending treatment and vaccines, as well as calls to investigate the origin of the virus and early response to the outbreak.
By Cecilia Ologunagba