Good morning, good afternoon and good evening.
First of all, I would like to congratulate the World Food Programme on being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize today.
Every day, WFP does incredible work in many countries.
We’re delighted for our friends and colleagues at WFP, and for the entire UN family. Congratulations to WFP and the UN.
Vaccines are one of the most powerful inventions in human history.
Smallpox has been eradicated and polio is on the brink, thanks to vaccines.
Once-feared diseases like diphtheria, tetanus, measles, meningitis and cervical cancer can all be prevented, thanks to vaccines.
We now have effective vaccines for Ebola and the world’s first malaria vaccine is now being piloted in three African countries.
And as you know, the world is eagerly anticipating the results of trials of vaccines against COVID-19, which are needed for WHO authorization.
Once we have an effective vaccine, we must also use it effectively, and the best way to do that is by making sure it’s available to all countries equitably through the COVAX Facility.
COVAX is an unprecedented partnership between WHO, Gavi, manufacturers and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness or CEPI, and has the largest portfolio of potential COVID-19 vaccines, with several in advanced human trials.
This week, China, the Republic of Korea and Nauru joined the COVAX Facility, bringing the total number of countries and economies that are part of the global initiative for vaccine access to 171.
Initially, supply of vaccines will be limited. But by sharing supply equitably, countries and economies that are part of COVAX can distribute vaccines simultaneously to priority populations, including health workers, older people and those with underlying conditions.
The aim of COVAX is to ensure that 2 billion doses are manufactured and distributed equitably by the end of 2021.
We also welcome the announcement by one vaccine developer, Moderna, that it will not enforce its patent rights over its COVID-19 vaccine during the pandemic.
We look forward to learning more about what this announcement means in terms of technology transfer.
We appreciate this act of solidarity, which is in line with the principles of the COVID-19 Technology Access Pool, or C-TAP. Sharing the benefits of innovation is the best way to end the pandemic and accelerate the global economic recovery.
The advice WHO gives to the world on vaccines is guided by the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization, or SAGE.
SAGE met earlier this week to review the latest developments for vaccines and vaccination against polio, measles, rotavirus, pneumococcus and COVID-19.
SAGE has recommended that any decisions about the allocation and prioritization of COVID-19 vaccines should be grounded in ethical values, including equal respect, global equity, national equity and reciprocity, as outlined in the WHO SAGE Values Framework published last month.
And second, SAGE issued a Prioritization Roadmap, which is designed to help countries make decisions about who should be prioritized to receive the initially limited supply of vaccines for COVID-19.
SAGE also reviewed evidence from around the world on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on immunization activities.
All regions have reported disruptions to immunization activities for many reasons, including constraints in supply and demand, re-assignment of health workers, travel restrictions and low availability of personal protective equipment.
We’re pleased to see that some countries have resumed immunization services, returning to or even exceeding the levels of vaccination prior to the pandemic.
But many other countries are still recovering gradually, and there are still gaps to close.
Millions of children globally are missing out on life-saving vaccines. Rapidly restoring immunization clinics, campaigns and outreach activities is the only way to prevent predictable outbreaks and deaths from diseases like measles and polio.
SAGE has issued new recommendations that all countries urgently prioritize implementation of catch-up vaccination campaigns.
Even as we work together to end the pandemic, we must remember that there are many other diseases and conditions that strike people down every day, which have been exacerbated by COVID-19.
That includes stillbirth.
Almost 2 million babies are stillborn every year, or 1 every 16 seconds, according to the first estimates of stillbirth published yesterday by UNICEF, the World Bank, WHO and the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs.
The report shows that 84% of stillbirths are in lower-income countries, often due to poor quality of care during pregnancy and birth.
Most stillbirths are preventable, but the pandemic could make this tragic situation even worse. Disruptions to services for maternal care could lead to even more stillbirths and even more heartbreak.
The COVID-19 pandemic has also taken a heavy toll on the mental health of millions of people, and highlighted the urgency of increasing investment in this neglected area of health.
Tomorrow is World Mental Health Day.
Close to 1 billion people are living with a mental disorder, and one person dies every 40 seconds by suicide.
Yet relatively few people globally have access to quality mental health services.
In low- and middle-income countries, more than 75% of people with mental, neurological and substance use disorders receive no treatment for their condition at all.
It is time for this to change.
It is time to increase investment in mental health services on a massive scale, so that access to quality mental health services becomes a reality for everyone.
Tomorrow, WHO will host the Big Event for Mental Health, an online global advocacy event that will bring together international and national leaders, advocates, sportspeople and artists, including the K-pop group SuperM from the Republic of Korea and Korede Bello from Nigeria.
During this unique event, you will see and hear, through stories of people living with mental health conditions, the challenges they face due to the ongoing pandemic, and how they are dealing with them.
I hope you will be inspired by the many examples of successful programmes, on adolescent mental health, suicide prevention, dementia and many more, that are being implemented by WHO, in collaboration with our partners.
You can watch the Big Event on WHO’s website, and through our social media channels, including Twitter, Facebook, TikTok, LinkedIn, YouTube and Twitch.
The Big Event is part of a larger campaign to focus attention on mental health with many partners.
I welcome the announcement earlier this week of the Healing Arts Auction hosted by the auction house Christie’s, the WHO Foundation and UN75.
This is a year-long auction that will raise money for the WHO Foundation that will be used to support mental health.
Together, let’s Move For Mental Health.
No health without mental health.
I thank you.