Your Excellencies, Secretary-General, colleagues, Mark and Henrietta.
I am pleased to join my colleagues from across the United Nations at this critical moment in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
I am pleased to join colleagues at this critical moment in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
I want to begin by reiterating the Secretary-General’s comments that now is the time for solidarity in the face of this threat to all of humanity.
As you know, the pandemic has accelerated over the last two weeks and while COVID-19 is a threat to people everywhere, what’s most worrying is the danger the virus poses to people already affected by the crisis.
People and communities that are already uprooted due to conflict, displacement, the climate crisis or other disease outbreaks are the ones we must urgently prioritize.
Despite their resilience, they do need our help today and this new plan lays out what has to happen right now, in order to save lives and slow the spread of this virus.
I implore leaders to stand together and heed this appeal, joining the Secretary-General’s call.
Since this outbreak was identified, WHO and our partners have been ramping up surveillance and lab testing across low- and middle-income countries.
We’ve brought scientists together to boost funding in the research and development of diagnostics, treatments and a future vaccine.
We’ve communicated online, via the media and in-person with many world leaders, to ensure that preparations are accelerated and populations are sensitized.
And we’ve worked with business leaders to ensure supply chains are working and bottlenecks are overcome.
The new Global Humanitarian Response Plan builds on that effort and sets a six-point action plan for how to prepare and respond to this emergency:
First, the public must be effectively prepared for the critical measures that are needed to help suppress the spread and protect vulnerable groups, like the elderly and those with underlying health conditions.
Second, ramp up surveillance and lab testing so that those with the virus can be identified quickly and isolated safely – helping to break the chains of transmission.
Third, prioritize treatment for those at highest risk of severe illness.
Fourth, slow, suppress and stop transmission to reduce the burden on health care facilities. This means safe hand washing; testing, isolating cases, and contact tracing, encouraging community-level physical distancing, and the suspension of mass gatherings and international travel.
For many on our planet following even this basic advice is a struggle but we as a global community must strive to make it possible.
Fifth, we’re building the ship as we sail and it’s critical that we continue to share learnings and innovations so that we can improve surveillance, prevention, and treatment. And ensure equitable access for the poorest to all R&D breakthroughs.
And finally, we need to protect the health and humanitarian supply chain so that our frontline workers are protected and able to travel freely as they give lifesaving care.
Our message to all countries is clear: heed this warning now, back this plan politically and financially today and we can save lives and slow the spread of this pandemic.
History will judge us on how we responded to the poorest communities in their darkest hour.
Let’s act together, right now!