WHO Director-General’s opening remarks at the Member State briefing on COVID-19 pandemic

Honourable Ministers, Excellencies, dear colleagues and friends,

Thank you for joining us for this week’s Member State briefing.

Today we will be hearing presentations from the Ministers of Health from Somalia, Benin, and Brazil, who will share with us their experiences and lessons learned from the COVID-19 response.

Next, will be an update on the ACT Accelerator from Dr. Bruce Aylward, who will recap our progress to date and summarize the next steps on the ACT Council and Allocation Framework, which Member States have been providing input on.

He will also discuss the challenges we are facing with financing – so far, we have only received 10 percent of what is needed.

Next, we will be updated on the COVAX Global Vaccines Facility from special guest Dr. Seth Berkley, CEO of GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance.

This comes at a critical time, as in the next two weeks, countries will need to finalize their commitments to join the facility.

We will also receive related information on vaccine allocation from Assistant Director-General Dr Mariangela Simão.

As always, this will be followed by your input and queries.


Before we get started, I would like to give you a brief update on some of our recent work that may be of interest.

I particularly want to call your attention to our annual World Health Statistics report, which provides up-to-date data on the health-related Sustainable Development Goals, and examines health trends across Member States, regions and the entire world.

The data shows that while we continue to make encouraging progress in many ways, we also lack progress in key areas, and some regions are still falling behind.

Our analysis shows the impact that COVID-19 has had on these efforts.

Overall, we still face major challenges, both because of the lack of available data, and the infrequency of data collection.

This is important, because wherever we can measure, we can make progress, as you know.

The pandemic has underscored the need for global cooperation to improve population health.

As requested by the Member States, WHO has also made the methods and database for impact measurement of the GPW13 Results Framework available online.

Our division on Data, Analytics and Delivery is working with Member States on better systems to have timely, reliable and actionable data for countries to improve programs and policies.

In order to achieve the GPW13 triple billion targets and SDGs health targets, it is critical that we monitor progress on all fronts in our efforts to reduce inequalities, address climate change and strengthen health systems.


Finally, I’d like to highlight a report we jointly released with UNICEF today, on the obstacles to re-opening schools because of a lack of basic handwashing facilities.

In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, where hand hygiene is one of the key recommendations for keeping safe, this is a major obstacle.

More than two out of five schools around the world lack basic handwashing facilities, affecting an estimated 818 million children.

Most of these schools do not even have clean water or working toilets.

Of course, this problem proceeded the current pandemic, and its impacts reach far beyond, covering a whole range of infectious diseases.

As governments work to safely re-open schools in line with UN and World Bank guidelines, water, sanitation and hygiene facilities must be a priority.

Our children’s future depends upon it.

I thank you.


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