Geneva, 26th October 2020 — With several countries in Europe and the US seeing a rise in reported cases, hospitalizations, and increased demand for intensive care units in the past week, the World Health Organisation has highlighted once again the importance of protecting health care workers, and reminded citizens that if they want to stop the spread of the virus and avoid lockdowns they must follow and abide to national and local health guidelines. 

Economic recovery, keeping kids in school and businesses open, will require “trade-offs, compromises and sacrifices” warned WHO’s Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanon Ghebreyesus. He also pointed out that leaders that acted swiftly making policy decision based in science and respect for healthcare workers have succeeded in slowing the chains of transmission.

WHO has invested substantially on training for healthcare workers worldwide and personnel that works with migrants. Last week it launched its first online course to address issues at the intersection and migration and healthcare. Dr. Tedros pleaded for a renewed focus on the inclusion of migrants in national healthcare systems of country-hosts, and to make universal health care a reality. 

This pandemic makes an even stronger case for reforms in healthcare systems of developed nations as well as developing ones, and calls for a serious look at proposals for moving from a commercial model of healthcare run by ravenous profit-seeking pharmaceutical and insurance companies to a public good, public service,

On Political Action 
“When leaders act quickly and deliberately, the virus can be suppressed. But where there has been political division at the national level, where there has been blatant disrespect for science and health professionals, confusion has spread and cases and deaths have mounted. This is why I have said repeatedly: stop the politization of COVID-19.”  A pandemic is not a political football. Wishful thinking or deliberate diversion will not prevent transmissions or save lives.” Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General

On Containment and Mitigation
”There is no dichotomy between containment versus mitigation. The approach includes both: active case finding, cluster investigation, supported quarantine for all contacts. That is important as well as protecting the vulnerable and making sure that the virus doesn’t reach those who are most at risk of infection, those who are most at risk of developing severe disease and death. And so, there is no time to lose here.”  Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, COVID-19 Technical Lead, WHO Health Emergencies Programme

On Testing
“Testing tells you what your status is today, this hour, it tells you nothing about what your status will be tonight or tomorrow or the next day. And to base your activities or your behavior on that is frankly a dangerous thing to do.” Dr Mike Ryan, Executive Director, WHO Health Emergencies Programme