NATIONAL NEWS - “We regret the decision of the President of the United States to order a halt in funding to the World Health Organisation (WHO). The WHO is reviewing the impact on our work of any withdrawal of US funding and will work with our partners to fill any financial gaps we face and to ensure our work continues uninterrupted.”
This was the reaction from Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, during a press briefing tonight (April 15). He added that their focus would remain on strengthening the world’s health systems and improving access to life-saving health services.
“Our commitment to public health, science and to serving all the people of the world without fear or favour remains absolute.”
Dr Ghebreyesus said 90 countries had joined or had expressed interest in joining the Solidarity Trial, and more than 900 patients had now been enrolled to evaluate the safety and efficacy of four drugs and drug combinations for the possible treatment of Covid-19.
Three vaccines were already in clinical trials, more than 70 others were in development, and the WHO was working with partners to accelerate the development, production, and distribution of vaccines, he said.
He said WHO’s performance in tackling this pandemic would be reviewed by the organisation’s member states and the independent bodies which were in place to ensure transparency and accountability.
“No doubt, areas for improvement will be identified and there will be lessons for all of us to learn. But for now, our focus, my focus, is on stopping this virus and saving lives.”
In addition to the Solidarity Trial, WHO had convened groups of clinicians to look at the impact of corticosteroids and other anti-inflammatory drugs on treatment outcomes and more specifically looking at oxygen use and ventilation strategies in patients.
“Any intervention that reduces the need for ventilation and improves outcomes for critically ill patients is important – especially in low-resource settings – to save lives.”
He announced that the first United Nations Solidarity Flight transporting personal protective equipment, ventilators and lab supplies to many countries across Africa had taken off yesterday.
Dr Ghebreyesus also made mention of the One World: Together concert being held this Saturday. “Some of the biggest names in music are coming to generate additional funds for the Solidarity Response Fund. But not just to raise funds, [but also] to bring the world together, because we’re one world, one humanity fighting a common enemy. I thank Lady Gaga, Global Citizen and all who are collaborating to put this concert together.”
*Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was elected as WHO Director-General for a five-year term by WHO member states at the Seventieth World Health Assembly in May 2017.
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