The emergence of the coronavirus pandemic has exposed the weakness of health systems in most countries, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said.
The Director-General, WHO, Tedros Ghebreyesus, said this at a press conference on Thursday.
“This virus, which was unknown three months ago, has exposed the weaknesses and inequities in our health systems and societies, our lack of preparedness, and the gaps in our supply chains and other essential systems,” he said.
He also said health systems have to be prepared for large numbers of cases, even as essential health services are maintained.
“We know that when health systems are overwhelmed, mortality from vaccine-preventable and other treatable conditions will increase dramatically,” he said.
He said gaps in essential care can result in many more deaths than the coronavirus itself.
WHO recently published guidance on maintaining essential health services while responding to COVID-19.
Ghebreyesus said it was inspiring to hear from China, Japan, the Republic of Korea and Singapore about their experiences and the lessons they have learned.
“We plan to do another similar briefing in a few weeks’ time when we will have even more experiences to share from Europe and elsewhere,” he said.
He said the global agency “is learning, reviewing the evidence and adapting the recommendations as necessary.”
“In the next day or two, we will reach more than one million confirmed cases of COVID-19 globally, and 50,000 deaths,” he said.
“This is one of more than 40 pieces of detailed, evidence-based guidance to guide countries in the response.
“Every day, WHO engages in numerous discussions with extensive networks of experts to refine the guidance to reflect the best science.
“Our press conferences are a good way for us to highlight key messages for the world at large, but they are no substitute for technical guidance. We urge all countries to read and implement this guidance,” he said.
The official said two months ago, WHO issued the first Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan, with an initial target of $675 million for the first three months of the response.
“As of yesterday, I’m delighted to say that $677 million has been pledged or received,” he said.
He said out of the amount, $300 million has been pledged or received for WHO’s operations, and the remainder has been given to partners or bilaterally.
While appreciating all Member States and partners for their generosity and solidarity, he said the rise in the pandemic since February had led to the increase in global needs.
“But as you know, the pandemic is many times larger than it was in early February, and the global needs have also increased significantly,” he said.
He said WHO and partners will require much more support over the coming weeks and months.
“We count on the continued support from governments, the private sector, and the global community,” he added.
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