GENEVA – The World Health Organization (WHO) must be supported across the world, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said on Wednesday, describing the UN health agency, which has led the multilateral response since the beginning, as “absolutely critical” in overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The Covid-19 pandemic is one of the most dangerous challenges this world has faced in our lifetime”, the UN chief said in a statement. “It is above all a human crisis with severe health and socio-economic consequences.
Mr. Guterres pointed out that thousands of WHO staff were in the field, fighting the virus on the front lines, supporting Member States and serving the most vulnerable among them with guidance, training, equipment and concrete life-saving assistance.
“I witnessed first-hand the courage and determination of WHO staff when I visited the Democratic Republic of the Congo last year, where WHO staff are working in precarious conditions and very dangerous remote locations as they fight the deadly Ebola virus”, he asserted.
Noting that no new cases of Ebola have been registered in months, the UN chief called it “a remarkable success for WHO”.
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“This virus is unprecedented in our lifetime and requires an unprecedented response”, Mr. Guterres spelled out.
Maintaining that it is possible that the same facts have been interpreted in different ways, by different entities, he assured that that once the world finally turns the page on the epidemic, “there must be a time to look back fully to understand how such a disease emerged and spread its devastation so quickly across the globe, and how all those involved reacted to the crisis”.
“The lessons learned will be essential to effectively address similar challenges, as they may arise in the future”, he continued.
But now is not that time, added the UN chief: “Now is the time for unity, for the international community to work together in solidarity to stop this virus and its shattering consequences.”