World Health Assembly resumes as global Covid-19 cases top 50mn

Geneva, Nov 10 (IANS): The 73rd World Health Assembly has resumed, where participants will address some of the most pressing global health issues and emergencies, including the raging Covid-19 pandemic that had claimed over 1.25 million lives and infected more than 50 million people globally.

The six-day session of the World Health Assembly, the decision-making body of the World Health Organization (WHO) which resumed on Monday, is the continuation of a short two-day event that took place in May.

Like the May event, the resumed session also took place virtually.

In his opening speech, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus once again appealed to all for global solidarity in the wake of the pandemic.

"We cannot negotiate with it, nor close our eyes and hope it goes away. It pays no heed to political rhetoric or conspiracy theories. Our only hope is science, solutions and solidarity," Tedros said.

His remarks came as the overall global Covid-19 caseload and death toll has reached 50,812,345 and 1,262,372, respectively.

It took just 20 days for the WHO tally to go from 40 million global cases, reported on October 20, to 50 million.

Tedros said half of all cases and deaths are in just four countries -- the US, India, Brazil and Russia.

The US is currently the worst-hit country with the world's highest number of cases and deaths at 10,051,722 and 238,201, respectively,

But according to the WHO chief, Covid-19 is far from the only emergency to which the health body has responded.

He cited other health emergencies this year, including major outbreaks of Chikungunya in Chad; yellow fever in Gabon and Togo; and measles in Mexico, which added to the total number of more than 60.

That's why WHO believes that healthier populations, universal health coverage and global health security are deeply intertwined, he said.

WHO would continue implementing its work plans of "triple billion" targets by 2023 -- to make one billion people safer from health emergencies, to see one billion more people benefiting from universal health coverage, and to see one billion more people enjoying better health and well-being, Tedros said.

To meet those targets, the health body is going to unveil a detailed reform update of the organization, which Tedros described as "the most deep-rooted transformation in WHO's history".

"This is our opportunity to write that story now," he said.

"A vaccine is needed urgently to control the pandemic. But as you know, it will not fix the vulnerabilities at its roots. A vaccine cannot address the global under-investment in essential public health functions and resilient health systems.

"There is no vaccine for poverty, hunger, climate change or inequality. None of these challenges can be addressed in isolation. They are deeply intertwined -- and so must be our response," he said.

As the world is struggling to contain the pandemic, countries are racing to find a vaccine.

According to the WHO, as of November 3, there were 202 Covid-19 candidate vaccines being developed worldwide, and 47 of them were in clinical trials.

"It's time for the world to heal -- from the ravages of this pandemic, and the geopolitical divisions that only drive us further into the chasm of an unhealthier, un-safer and unfairer future.

"It's time to forge a new era of cooperation, that puts health and well-being at the centre of our common future," Tedros added.


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Title: World Health Assembly resumes as global Covid-19 cases top 50mn

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