World leaders call for unity to combat COVID-19 at the first-ever virtual World Health Assembly

21 May 2020

“The only way out of this unfortunate and dreadful situation is through collaboration, based on respect and solidarity.”

~ Dr Lia Tadesse, Ethiopia’s Minister of Health

——

H.E. Dr Lia Tadesse, Ethiopia’s Minister of Health, delivered her maiden speech at the 73rd World Health Assembly, which was held virtually for the first time due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The World Health Assembly was held on 18th–19th  May and will reconvene later in the year.

As the WHO convened ministers of health from almost every country in the world, the consistent message throughout the two-day meeting -including from the 14 heads of state participating in the opening and closing sessions – was that global unity is the most powerful tool to combat the outbreak.

Briefing the Assembly on Ethiopia’s COVID-19 containment efforts at national, regional, and continental levels, the Minister said that the Ethiopian Government took decisive and multi-dimensional measures to contain the spread of the disease.

Ethiopia is actively contributing to the continental response by ensuring the timely distribution of test kits and protective equipment across Africa and will continue working closely with neighbouring countries to control the spread of the virus.

“Ethiopia calls for universal, timely and equitable access to quality, essential, affordable and efficacious health technology and products including vaccines, diagnostics, therapeutics, and protective equipment,” the minister said, adding “we call for the removal of all kinds of legal policies or technical barriers that impede access.”

The Minister praised WHO’s exceptional leadership in coordinating the comprehensive global response to the pandemic and supporting the national response efforts of member states.

In his closing remarks, WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom said, “COVID-19 has robbed us of people we love. It’s robbed us of lives and livelihoods; it’s shaken the foundations of our world; it threatens to tear at the fabric of international cooperation.”

“It’s also reminded us that for all our differences, we are one human race, and we are stronger together.”

 

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