The World Health Organisation (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus held a virtual press conference on April 27 where he said that the global health agency is deeply concerned about the impact the pandemic will have on other health services, especially for children. "Children may be at relatively low risk from severe disease and death from COVID-19, but can be at high risk from other diseases that can be prevented with vaccines," Tedros told reporters in Geneva.
"Every year, more than 116 million infants are vaccinated, or 86% of all children born globally. But there are still more than 13 million children around the world who miss out on vaccination. We know that that number will increase because of COVID-19. Already, polio vaccination campaigns have been put on hold, and in some countries, routine immunization services are being scaled back or shut down," Tedros said in the press conference.
According to Tedros, WHO is concerned about the increasing cases in Africa, Eastern Europe, Latin America, and some Asian countries, where he feels that cases and deaths are being underreported because of low testing capacity. "We are continuing to support these countries with technical assistance through our regional and country offices, and with supplies through Solidarity Flights. In the past week, we have delivered supplies to more than 40 countries in Africa, and more are planned," Tedros said.
Tedros also highlighted the WHO's efforts amid the pandemic as he pointed out that the UN health body has shipped millions of items of personal protective equipment to 105 countries, and lab supplies to more than 127 countries so far, adding that it will ship millions more in the weeks ahead. Tedros also thanked China, Portugal, and Vietnam for their recent contributions to WHO’s Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan.
Tedros further reiterated that the fight against coronavirus could only be won through unity at the national level and solidarity at the global level. "If we’re not united the virus will exploit the gaps between us and create havoc. Lives will be lost. National unity is the foundation for global solidarity. Solidarity, solidarity, solidarity – that’s what we will say every single day," Tedros added.
(Image Credit: AP)