On Monday, the governments of Sweden and Switzerland and the United Nations will host a virtual High-Level Pledging Event for Yemen.
Yemen is the world’s largest humanitarian crisis, with more than 20 million people in need of humanitarian assistance.
More than five million people are now at risk of famine. And already, half a million children under five could die from hunger in the coming weeks, unless they receive urgent treatment.
All of this, even as the already fragile health system has had to deal with COVID-19.
This current crisis comes at a time, after years of conflict, when there is now a real opportunity for peace in Yemen. We have to act on it.
Two years ago, generous funding helped hold off famine. It is time to step up again. The situation now is even more grave.
The 2021 Response Plan includes an ask of US$3.85 billion. I urge donors to be generous.
On Wednesday, Ghana became the first country outside India to receive doses of COVID-19 vaccine from the COVAX Facility.
Just a few hours ago, Côte d’Ivoire received its first doses, and more doses will be shipped to more countries in the coming days and weeks, as we move towards our target of starting vaccination in all countries within the first 100 days of the year. We now have 43 days left.
I would like to thank our COVAX partners at Gavi, CEPI and UNICEF, who have helped bring us to this point, and the Member States who have provided the resources.
We have made progress. But that progress is fragile. We need to accelerate the supply and distribution of vaccines, and we cannot do that if some countries continue to approach manufacturers who are producing vaccines that COVAX is counting on.
These actions undermine COVAX and deprive health workers and vulnerable people around the world of life-saving vaccines.
Now is the time to use every tool to scale up production, including licensing and technology transfer, and where necessary, intellectual property waivers. If not now, then when?
I understand full well that all governments have an obligation to protect their own people.
But the best way to do that is by suppressing the virus everywhere at the same time.
It’s also important to remember that although vaccines are a very powerful tool, they’re not the only tool.
We still need to accelerate the distribution of rapid diagnostics, oxygen and dexamethasone.
In that regard, we welcome the European Council’s statement of solidarity today, committing to contributing the European Union’s share of funding to the ACT Accelerator.
And we must also remember that for more than a year now, many countries have successfully prevented or controlled transmission without vaccines, and with proven public health measures.
On Wednesday, WHO officially launched our Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan for 2021, which outlines six objectives and the 10 essential pillars of the response.
The 2021 SPRP outlines how WHO will support countries in meeting these objectives, and the resources we need to do it.
Many countries used last year’s SPRP as the basis for their national response, adapting and applying it to their own context.
One of the countries that has averted a major crisis despite the predictions of various models is Nigeria.
With Africa’s largest population, its largest economy and its largest city, what happens in Nigeria affects what happens in Africa.
Today I’m delighted to be joined by Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, the Director General of Nigeria’s Centre for Disease Control, and the head of WHO’s country office in Nigeria, Dr Walter Kazadi Mulombo.
Dr Chikwe is one of Africa’s – and the world’s – leading public health experts. My brother, thank you so much for joining us today to talk about Nigeria’s experience and response to COVID-19. You have the floor.