WHO Director-General's opening remarks at the media briefing - Pandemic agreement, Gaza, Sudan, cholera

22 February, 2024

Dear All,

In the just ended Virtual briefing by the WHO DG, as usual it is gripping with many health issues across the Globe in this era of multi-modal world separated by deep seated ideologies and opinions. It is the vulnerable, sick, displaced that suffer the brunt.


The DG covered Key areas needing / receiving attention immediately:

On Global Post Covid-19 Accord, he said: ‘There is progress and I maintain confidence that by the World Health Assembly in May this year, countries will have agreed on a new pandemic agreement that sets out a better set of parameters than we had during COVID-19.’

On Gaza, he ended with questions: ‘What type of world do we live when people cannot get food and water, or when people who cannot even walk are not able to receive care?’; ‘What type of world do we live in when health workers are at risk of being bombed as they carry out their lifesaving work?’; ‘What type of world do we live in when hospitals must close because there’s no more power or medicines to help save patients? And they’re being targeted by military force?’; ‘We need a ceasefire now! We need hostages to be released, we need the bombs to stop dropping and we need unfettered humanitarian access.’; ‘Humanity must prevail.’

On Sudan, he said, ‘while not receiving much international media attention, is witnessing a humanitarian catastrophe’. ‘More than 10 months of conflict have had a deadly impact on the lives, livelihoods and health of the people.’ ‘Over 6 million people have been displaced internally and nearly 2 million have gone to neighbouring countries. This is the largest displacement of people in the world.’

‘Half the population needs humanitarian aid. But partners cannot reach most ofthem.’ ‘Already, more than 14,000 people have been killed, and if the world turns a blind eye to the suffering in Sudan, many more will die.’ He ended with, ‘WHO condemns in the strongest terms the continued attacks on health care in Sudan, and the occupation of health facilities.’ ‘Like in Gaza, peace is desperately needed in Sudan to protect lives and rebuild the health system.’

On Cholera epidemic resurgence, the DG said, that ‘After years of progress against cholera, the deadly disease has come roaring back in 30 countries spurred on by conflict, poverty, the climate crisis and global socio-economic inequality.’ He enumerated what the world needs to do quickly: ‘First, it is important to ensure people have safe water, and access to toilets that don’t contaminate their surroundings. This means investing in major infrastructure projects and working directly with affected communities.

Second, as cholera spreads so rapidly, honing a surveillance system that candetect outbreaks quickly is key to delivering effective treatment and rolling out vaccines to those in need.

Third, it remains important that global vaccine production is incentivized, increased and nurtured regionally.

He ended by saying that, ‘These are difficult times. But we must not forget that these challenges can be overcome.  

As we speak, countries and communities and organizations, including WHO and so many partners, are working to alleviate the suffering.

There is hope but it must be nurtured and supported, and we must do more. The health of all depends on that.’ 

Source :21 February Virtual Press Conference.  LINK: WHO Director-General's openingremarks at the media briefing - 21 February 2024

Joseph Ana

HIFA Profile: Joseph Ana is the Lead Senior Fellow/Medical Consultant at the Centre for Clinical Governance Research and Patient Safety (CCGR&PS) with Headquarters in Calabar, Nigeria, established by HRI Global (former HRIWA). He is the Country Coordinator for PACK Nigeria (Practical Approach to Care Kit) which is specifically designed to improve clinical competence (improving accuracy of diagnosis and treatment) in primary health care. He is also a Member of the World Health Organisation’s Technical Advisory Group on Integrated Care in primary, emergency, operative, and critical care (TAG-IC2). As the Cross River State Commissioner for Health (2004-2008), Joseph Ana led the introduction of the evidence based, homegrown quality tool, the 12-Pillar Clinical Governance Programme (12-PCGP) in Nigeria, which also suitable for lower-, low-, and middle income countries (LLMIC) with similar weak health sector and system. To ensure sustainability of 12-PCGP, the ‘Department of Clinical Governance, Servicom & e-health’ was established in Cross River State Ministry of Health in 2007. His main interest is in ‘Whole health sector and system strengthening in LLMICs’. He has written six books on the 12-Pillar Clinical Governance Programme, including the TOOLS manual for its Implementation, currently in its 2nd Edition. He served as Chairman of the Nigerian Medical Association’s Standing Committee on Clinical Governance (2012-2022), and he won the Association’s ‘Award of Excellence’ on three consecutive occasions for the innovation of 12-PCGP in Nigeria. He served as Chairman, Quality & Performance subcommittee of the Technical Working Group for the implementation of the Nigeria Health Act 2014. He was Member, National Tertiary Health Institutions Standards Committee (NTISC) of the Federal Ministry of Health, 2017-2022. He is the pioneer Secretary General/Trustee-Director of the Charity, NMF (Nigerian Medical Forum UK) which took the BMJ to West Africa in 1995. Joseph is a member of the HIFA Steering Group; the HIFA working group on Community Health Workers, and the Working Group on HIFA-WHO Collaboration (http://www.hifa.org/support/members/joseph-0 http://www.hifa.org/people/steering-group). Email: info AT hri-global.org and jneana AT yahoo.co.uk