The lack of global leadership and unity to fight the coronavirus is a bigger threat that the outbreak itself, the head of the World Health Organisation said on Monday, adding that politicisation of the pandemic had made it worse.
He did not elaborate but the WHO has been criticised by some members states, especially the United States which says it was too weak, too slow and too “China-centric” in tackling the disease.
Other members have called for a review into the pandemic, with Australia urging the WHO to have more powers, enabling it to respond more quickly to a health crisis.
“The world is in desperate need of national unity and global solidarity. The politicisation of the pandemic has exacerbated it,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a virtual health forum organised by the World Government Summit, an event organised by Dubai.
“…The greatest threat we face now is not the virus itself, it’s the lack of global solidarity and global leadership.”
He said some parts of international health regulations needed to be strengthened to make them “more fit for purpose”.
He did not say which parts, only that they needed “coordinated, predictable, transparent, broad-based and flexible funding” to be fully implemented.
He also said all countries must make universal healthcare a priority, warning the world had learnt the hard way that strong healthcare systems were “the foundation of global health security and of social and economic development”. The WHO on Friday warned the pandemic was accelerating, as global infections rose above 8.3 million people with 453,834 deaths. Norway’s health minister, Bent Hoeie, cautioned that the outbreak was “far from over”. The novel coronavirus has killed at least 468,518 people since the outbreak began in China last December, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP as of 1100 GMT on Monday. At least 8,979,750 cases of coronavirus have been registered in 196 countries and territories. Of these, at least 4,200,700 are considered recovered.
The tallies, using data collected by AFP from national authorities and information from the World Health Organization (WHO), probably reflect only a fraction of the actual number of infections. Many countries are testing only symptomatic or the most serious cases.
The United States is the worst-hit country with 119,977 deaths from 2,280,969 cases. At least 617,460 people have been declared recovered. After the US, the countries with the highest death tolls are Brazil with 50,617 deaths from 1,085,038 cases; Britain with 42,632 deaths from 304,331 cases; Italy with 34,634 deaths from 238,499 cases; and France with 29,640 deaths from 196,878 cases.
China — excluding Hong Kong and Macau — has to date declared 4,634 deaths and 83,378 infections with 78,413 recoveries. Europe overall has 192,860 deaths prom 2,532,159 cases, the United States and Canada 128,448 deaths from 2,382,255 infections, Latin America and the Caribbean 95,912 deaths from 2,058,781 cases, Asia 29,432 deaths from 1,046,176 cases, the Middle East 13,645 deaths from 644,308 cases, Africa 8,090 deaths from 307,167 cases, and Oceania 131 deaths from 8,908 cases.
As a result of corrections by national authorities or late publication of data, the figures updated over the past 24 hours may not correspond exactly to the previous day’s tallies.—AFP