Fred Ezeh, Abuja
The Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has described the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) as an enemy that could tear the world apart if not properly handled.
A statement from WHO raised the alarm on Thursday in Saudi Arabia at the extraordinary meeting of G20 Leaders’ Virtual Summit that focused on COVID-19.
He said: “You have come together to confront the defining health crisis of our time. We are at war with a virus that threatens to tear us apart if we let it.“
He welcomed the G20‘s initiative to find joint solutions and work together.
“This is a global crisis that requires a global response. We must fight, unite, ignite the fire that will help us defeat the virus as soon as possible,” he said.
Dr Tedros urged leaders to fight without excuses, without regrets, thanking countries who have already taken steps and urgently asking that they do more.
He further encouraged them to unite, stressing that no country can fight this alone, and calling on all countries to build on the solidarity already sparked by the crisis.
He also exhorted them to ignite a global movement to ensure this never happens again.
The WHO head welcomed G20 leaders‘ commitment to do whatever it takes to overcome the pandemic, to protect lives and livelihoods, as well as restore confidence and shore up stability currently threatened in trade and other sectors, and to commit to take all necessary health measures and seek to ensure adequate financing to contain the pandemic and protect people, especially the most vulnerable.“
The G20 leaders promised to support and strengthen WHO’s mandate in coordinating the response and called for full funding of WHO‘s strategic preparedness and response plan.
G20 members also pledged to work together to increase research and development funding for vaccines and medicines, strengthen international scientific cooperation, and leverage digital technologies.
In turn, they tasked WHO and other relevant organizations with assessing gaps in pandemic preparedness and report the findings of this assessment to the G20 Finance and Health Ministers, in order to establish a global initiative on pandemic preparedness and response together.