The World Health Organisation says COVID-19 is the most challenging crisis it has ever faced.
In a Spotlight article posted on its website on Wednesday, WHO noted that this is not the first time it will be responding to a pandemic, and it won’t be the last, stressing, “but COVID-19 is the most challenging crisis we have ever faced.”
WHO said it was the scenario the public health community had feared for decades.
Recall that on 30 January 2020, WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, declared the COVID-19 outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.
The declaration is WHO’s highest level of alarm – a rallying call to all countries to immediately take notice, and take action.
“A dangerous virus emerges. It spreads rapidly around the world.
“COVID-19 infects people when they come together, but coming together is also how we will beat it. 2020 saw the world unite against the virus, from small personal gestures to protect others, to international collaboration on research and innovation. The year ends with COVID-19 vaccines rolling out – an extraordinary feat.
“Science, solutions, and solidarity have been WHO’s tools for addressing the biggest health threat of the past century – this is the story of the response we built with them,” it said.
The UN agency says at the end of 2020, economies representing 90 percent of the global population are eligible to receive vaccines through COVAX.
$2.4bn had been raised for the Advance Market Commitment, the innovative financial mechanism that will secure access to COVID-19 vaccines for the world’s poorest countries.
“Yet despite this success, $4.6bn is still needed for the AMC in 2021 alone.
“WHO’s COVID-19 response built on lessons learned from previous outbreaks.
“Our early guidance on COVID-19 was adapted from documents on Middle East Respiratory Syndrome.
“Reforms pursued since the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa – such as ways to help countries prepare for emergencies and accelerate research when new diseases emerge – underpinned the speed, flexibility, and effectiveness of the COVID-19 response,” the agency said.
It added that there is much more to do in 2021 as the pandemic still rages in large parts of the world.
“There are massive funding gaps. There is a real risk of vaccine nationalism, and the best tools against COVID-19 not being shared fairly among countries.
“Many health systems will struggle to roll out COVID-19 vaccines, tests, and treatments while managing all other areas of health.
“Overcoming these challenges to ensure COVID-19 releases its grip on our lives in 2021 will require us all to come together with humility, humanity, and generosity,” it said.
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