JOHANNESBURG – President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Monday that Africa affirms its “full support” for the World Health Organization (WHO), which he said had been key in guiding the international response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Ramaphosa, speaking to the WHO’s annual assembly being held online, said that assistance to Africa needs to include debt relief and help with diagnostics, drugs and medical supplies.
“We must ensure that there is equitable access to medical equipment, technologies and best practice to combat COVID-19,” Ramaphosa said.
READ: Ramaphosa says Africa needs two-year debt standstill
He called on leaders to use the World Health Assembly as a platform to tighten global coordination against the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The coronavirus pandemic has demonstrated the essential value of universal health coverage and should propel countries to act with greater urgency to make it a reality.
“Let us also continue to work together to improve our emergency preparedness for potential future outbreaks of this nature, and take forward the proposal made at the previous meeting of the World Health Assembly to develop a Global Disaster Response Plan,” he said.
READ: COVID-19 could infect over 200m in Africa: WHO
Meanwhile, WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he would initiate an independent evaluation of its handling of the coronavirus pandemic at the “earliest appropriate moment” and vowed transparency and accountability.
“We all have lessons to learn from the pandemic. Every country and every organisation must examine its response and learn from its experience. WHO is committed to transparency, accountability and continuous improvement,” Ghebreyesus said.
Tedros thanked early high-level speakers for their “strong support for WHO at this critical time” and said that the review must encompass responsibility of “all actors in good faith”.
READ: ‘World should have listened to WHO’ on virus: director
“The risk remains high and we have a long road to travel,” Tedros said. Preliminary serological tests in some countries showed that at most 20 percent of populations had contracted the disease and “in most places less than 10 percent”, he said.
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