The World Health Organization chief on Monday congratulated US President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, saying the WHO looks forward to working with their administration “very closely.”
“We need to reimagine leadership, built on mutual trust and mutual accountability – to end the pandemic and address the fundamental inequalities that lie at the root of so many of the world’s problems,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus in a 40-minute speech at the opening day of the World Health Assembly.
Tedros hopes to see a reversal of the May 30 announcement by President Donald Trump that the US is ending its relationship with the WHO.
Biden had said during his election campaign, he would reverse the decision made by Trump when he tweeted on July 8, “On my first day as President, I will rejoin the @WHO and restore our leadership on the world stage.”
That followed a months-long review Trump had ordered after saying “they have failed to make the requested and greatly needed reforms” and halting Washington’s funding over concerns the global health body mishandled the novel coronavirus outbreak.
He continued to insist China has “total control” over the WHO, claiming “Chinese officials ignored their reporting obligations” to the health body during the coronavirus pandemic and “pressured” it to “mislead the world.”
The assembly, which will sit through Nov. 14, is being held due to the COVID-19 pandemic and follows the reduced meeting of May 18-19.
“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,” said Tedros in his address.
“It’s time to forge a new era of cooperation that puts health and well-being at the center of our common future.”
WHO head remains in quarantine
The WHO chief remains in quarantine after making contact with a person who tested positive for the novel coronavirus, but he had noted that he has no virus symptoms.
The WHO said it will hold no news conferences this week.
Turning to the reform that the US and other nations have demanded at the WHO, Tedros said, “This is an organization that has changed and is changing.
“We have prepared a detailed transformation update, which the Member States will receive during the Assembly.”
The WHO chief insists he supports transparency for the organization.
He said that among other developments, there is a new division for Data, Analytics, and Delivery for Impact, “making WHO a modern, data-driven organization that supports with timely, reliable, and actionable data to drive impact.”
“The ACT Accelerator is a unique mechanism with two aims: to develop vaccines, diagnostics, and therapeutics fast; and to allocate them fairly,” the WHO chief added.
In September, WHO reached an agreement to make 120 million new rapid tests available to low- and middle-income countries.
“We have secured courses of dexamethasone – the only medicine shown to reduce the risk of death so far – for up to 4.5 million patients in lower-income countries,” Tedros said.
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