The United States of America has been a longstanding and generous friend to WHO, and we hope it will continue to be so | Illustration: Binay Sinha
Good morning, good afternoon and good evening, wherever you are.
When the nations of the world met to form the United Nations in 1945, one of the first things they discussed was establishing an organisation to protect and promote the health of the world’s people.
They expressed that desire in the constitution of WHO, which says that the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being, without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition.
That creed remains our vision today.
The United States
of America has been a longstanding and generous friend to WHO, and we hope it will continue to be so.
We regret the decision of the President of the United States
to order a halt in funding to the World Health Organization.
With support from the people and government of the United States, WHO works to improve the health of many of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people.
WHO is not only fighting Covid-19. We’re also working to address polio, measles, malaria, Ebola, HIV, tuberculosis, malnutrition, cancer, diabetes, mental health and many other diseases and conditions.
We also work with countries to strengthen health systems and improve access to life-saving health services.
WHO is reviewing the impact on our work of any withdrawal of US funding and will work with our partners to fill any financial gaps we face and to ensure our work continues uninterrupted.
Our commitment to public health, science and to serving all the people of the world without fear or favour remains absolute.
Our mission and mandate are to work with all nations equally, without regard to the size of their populations or economies.
COVID-19 does not discriminate between rich nations and poor, large nations and small. It does not discriminate between nationalities, ethnicities or ideologies.
Neither do we. This is a time for all of us to be united in our common struggle against a common threat – a dangerous enemy.
When we are divided, the virus exploits the cracks between us.
We are committed to serving the world’s people, and to accountability for the resources with which we are entrusted.
In due course, WHO’s performance in tackling this pandemic will be reviewed by WHO’s Member States and the independent bodies that are in place to ensure transparency and accountability.
This is part of the usual process put in place by our Member States.
No doubt, areas for improvement will be identified and there will be lessons for all of us to learn.
But for now, our focus — my focus — is on stopping this virus and saving lives.
WHO is grateful to the many nations, organisations and individuals who have expressed their support and commitment to WHO in recent days, including their financial commitment.
We welcome this demonstration of global solidarity, because solidarity is the rule of the game to defeat COVID-19.
WHO is getting on with the job.
We are continuing to study this virus every moment of every day, we are learning from many countries about what works, and we are sharing that information with the world.
There are more than 1.5 million enrolments in WHO’s online courses through OpenWHO.org, and we will continue to expand this platform to train many more millions so we can fight COVID effectively.
Today we launched a new course for health workers on how to put on and remove personal protective equipment.
Every day we bring together thousands of clinicians, epidemiologists, educators, researchers, lab technicians, infection prevention specialists and others
to exchange knowledge on Covid-19.
Our technical guidance brings together the most up-to-date evidence for health ministers, health workers and individuals.
Yesterday I had the honour of speaking to heads of state and government from the 13 Asean-plus-three nations.
It was inspiring to hear their experiences, and their commitment to working together to secure a shared future.
As a result of their experience with SARS and avian influenza, these countries have put in place measures and systems that are now helping them to detect and respond to Covid-19.
We’re also continuing to work with partners all over the world to accelerate research and development.
More than 90 countries have joined or have expressed interest in joining the Solidarity Trial, and more than 900 patients have now been enrolled, to evaluate the safety and efficacy of four drugs and drug combinations.
Three vaccines have already started clinical trials, more than 70 others
are in development, and we’re working with partners to accelerate the development, production and distribution of vaccines.
In addition to the Solidarity Trial, I am glad to say that WHO has convened groups of clinicians to look at the impact of corticosteroids and other anti-inflammatory drugs on treatment outcomes.
Specifically, we are looking at oxygen use and ventilation strategies in patients. Any intervention that reduces the need for ventilation and improves outcomes for critically ill patients is important — especially in low-resource settings, to save lives.
... Since the beginning, WHO has been fighting the pandemic with every ounce of our soul and spirit. We will continue to do that until the end. That’s our commitment to the whole world.
Edited excerpts from an address by WHO chief, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, 15 April