By Cecilia Ologunagba
The World Health Organisation (WHO) says the 74th session of the World Health Assembly (WHA) will stress the urgent need to end the current pandemic and prevent the next one by building a healthier, safer, and fairer world.
WHO, in a statement said that WHA, which would be held virtually, would run from May 24 to 1 June, 2021.
The Health Assembly is WHO’s highest decision-making body and is attended by delegations from all around the world.
It will also be opened to Associate Members, Observers, invited representatives of the UN and other participating inter-governmental organisations, and non-State actors.
According to the UN health agency, over the past year, cases of COVID-19 rose 40-fold to 162 million globally, while the number of deaths has increased 11 times, to more than 3.3 million.
“The pandemic has hit all countries hard, but its impact has been harshest on those communities which were already vulnerable.
“Those countries vulnerable, who are more exposed to the disease, less likely to have access to quality health care services and more likely to experience adverse consequences (such as loss of income) as a result of measures implemented to contain the pandemic.’’
The statement quoted WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, saying, “A crisis often brings out the best in people and organisations.
“From the WHO Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan to our technical guidance, the Solidarity Trial, the UN Supply Chain Task Force and the OpenWHO.org learning platform have been helping prevent infections and save lives.
“Also, other initiatives like the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator, including its COVAX partnership, and the Solidarity Response Fund, WHO has given countries effective and evidence-informed tools to prevent infections, save lives and maintain essential health services.
“I am especially proud of the incredible work that WHO staff have done all over the world in the past 17 months to support countries to put these tools to work.”
The UN health agency said that the pandemic was far from over and that the global response was at a critical phase.
It stated that stark contrasts still undermined progress, with vaccine inequity being one of the most urgent issues, posing a threat to ending the pandemic and to global recovery.
“Over 75 per cent of all vaccine doses have been administered in only 10 countries; the lowest income countries have administered less than half a per cent of global doses.’’
The statement further quoted Ghebreyesus, as saying, “This year’s WHA will play a vital role in shaping the global health architecture of the future, and in strengthening WHO to fulfil its mission and mandate.”
The Assembly’s agenda will focus on the health-related Sustainable Development Goals.
It will also focus on WHO’s Triple Billion targets of one billion more people benefitting from universal health coverage; one billion more better protected from health emergencies, and one billion more enjoying better health and well-being. (NAN)