On the occasion of the 75th edition of the World Health Assembly (WHA75) officially launched on Sunday in Geneva, Switzerland, the World Health Organization (WHO) said a total of 154 healthcare workers died in less than five months in 2022.
Indeed, the global health body also revealed that a total of 373 healthcare facilities were attacked and 131 healthcare workers suffered varying degrees of injuries during the same period.
WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus said as much in his remarks at the opening ceremony of the annual event on Sunday afternoon.
Mr. Ghebreyesus said this to reiterate the relevance of the theme of this year’s global assembly of health experts, heads of government and representatives of development partners and civil society organizations.
The theme for this year’s week-long event is; “Health for peace, peace for health.” And it is announced that it will end on Saturday, May 28, 2022.
The assembly is the highest decision-making body from whom.
While stressing the importance of peace, Mr. Ghebreyesus said: “So far this year, WHO has verified 373 attacks on health in 14 countries and territories, claiming the lives of 154 health workers and patients. and causing 131 injuries.
“Even the WHO is targeted. In 2019, our colleagues – Dr Richard Masako from Cameroon and Belinda Casa Kasongo from DRC were murdered in DRC, while working to protect others from Ebola.
He described the attacks on health workers and health facilities as a violation of international humanitarian law. “But they are also a violation of the right to help in Ethiopia, the Syrian Arab Republic, Ukraine, Yemen and elsewhere.
He said the WHO was working “in conflict zones to provide medicines, equipment, training and technical advice to support care for those who needed to care for the wounded, to give pregnant women the conditions of safe and supportive childbirth, to ensure children receive routine immunizations and to support health workers who continue to provide lifesaving services in the most difficult of circumstances.
“Peace, only medicine for health”
In his emotional speech, the WHO Director-General described himself as a child of war, even as he recounted his ugly experiences as a child who was, along with his family, trapped in the war that ravaged his country of origin, Ethiopia.
He also recalled in 1998 when another round of wars broke out in his country, and how his children also suffered its fate by taking refuge in the bunkers.
He said, “I am a child of war. The sound of gunshots and shells whistling through the air, the smell of smoke after they hit tracer bullets in the night sky, the fear, the pain, the loss. These things have stayed with me throughout my life. Because I was in the middle of the war when I was very young, maybe 10, maybe 11, maybe nine… I feel the same pain and loss again now. With war in my homeland once again, not only a child of war, but following me all the way.
Mr. Ghebreyesus denounced the situation in Ukraine, Syria and Ethiopia, among other countries currently at war, saying that hunger and disease are familiar features of wars.
He said that while lasting solutions are needed to end wars wherever they occur, the only remedy is peace.
“But at the end of the day, the medicine most needed is the one the WHO cannot provide, peace. Peace is a prerequisite for health,” he said.
He therefore called on all world leaders to consider peace as the lasting solution to the world’s health problems.
The CEO also spoke about the pandemic and the challenges it poses to the world.
He challenged world leaders to pursue equitable distribution of vaccines, even as he called on low- and middle-income countries to “turn vaccines into vaccinations”.
He said the vaccine hesitancy recorded in these countries was linked to misinformation and misinformation and called on the governments of the countries concerned to increase vaccination campaigns to reach 70% of the vaccinated population in the world.
“Only 57 countries have vaccinated 70% of their population, and almost all of them are high-income countries. We must continue to support all countries to achieve 0% vaccination coverage as soon as possible, including 100% of people over 60; 100% of health workers and 100% of those with underlying conditions,” the WHO DG said.
Kenyan President speaks
Other world leaders who spoke at the event included the President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta, who hit out at the leadership of high-income countries for what he described as inequity in vaccination against the coronavirus pandemic.
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Mr Kenyatta said around 1.8 billion people in low- and middle-income countries had yet to take the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
He said the world cannot claim victory over the pandemic until every country is free from the virus.
He urged world leaders to consider ways to address the challenges posed by diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis and non-communicable diseases. He said that Africa is a continent facing the consequences of these diseases.
He also spoke about the local manufacture of medicines and vaccines taken on the continent, and called on the WHO to ensure appropriate legislations and protocols that will support such ideas.
The WHA is the highest decision-making body of the World Health Organization (WHO). The main function of the assembly is to determine the policies of the organization, appoint the chief executive officer, oversee financial policies, and consider and approve the proposed program budget.
At this year’s meeting, the outgoing chief executive’s first five-year term will come to an end, and he has been nominated for re-election by an appropriate body of the global body.
Other vice presidents from various countries and chairs of various relevant committees will also be elected at the forum, which ends on Saturday.
Ahmed Abdilleh, Minister of Health of Djiboutiwas elected president of this year’s assembly on Sunday.
The host country, Switzerland, will welcome the participants for a dinner today (Sunday), as announced by the country’s leaders.
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