By He Yin
To make concrete actions with unity and concerted efforts remains an urgent task for the world when COVID-19 is spreading around the globe, as it concerns the safety and health of the people. The 73rd World Health Assembly held virtually on May 18 carried special missions at this special moment, as well as the expectations of people around the world.
The mainstream voice made by the international society is to make joint efforts and conquer the current difficulties, just like what Chinese President Xi Jinping has put forward at the Extraordinary G20 Leaders’ Summit on COVID-19: “At such a moment, it is imperative for the international community to strengthen confidence, act with unity and work together in a collective response. We must comprehensively step up international cooperation and foster greater synergy so that humanity as one could win the battle against such a major infectious disease.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) is a special body under the United Nations (UN), and also a core power to propel and coordinate international efforts fighting the pandemic. Under the leadership of WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the UN health body has actively promoted international anti-pandemic cooperation in an objective, just and science-based manner, winning broad recognition from the international society.
The arduous efforts made by the WHO in the past months were obvious to all. It assisted countries to enhance capacity building and pandemic control, provided authoritative information with its partners and issued dozens of technical guidance to the public, medical staff and global countries, organized and optimized global scientific research power by coordinating top scientists on its global network, and it joined hands with the world’s major internet platforms to prevent “infodemic” that rose along with COVID-19.
It offered necessary medical equipment to frontline medical workers, ordered 30 million sets of testing kits with its partners, and sent a large amount of masks and protective goggles to countries in dire need. It trained and mobilized medical workers, offering online training courses in over 40 languages, and initiated the “Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator” program, pledging 7.4 billion euros ($8.07 billion) for enhancing the research and development for COVID-19 vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics.
Numerous data and facts prove that WHO has made undeniable contributions for releasing authoritative information, offering technical guidance, raising anti-pandemic materials and coordinating global efforts.
Viruses respect no border, and the pandemic spreads in all ethnicities, countries and regions. The human beings live in a community with a shared future, and cooperation remains the only way out. To support the WHO in playing active roles is to safeguard the safety and health of the people.
Group of 77 (G77) and China recently issued a statement, hailing the leadership and guidance offered by the WHO in the global war against the COVID-19 pandemic; Non-Aligned Movement held a video summit on COVID-19 and expressed its support for WHO’s leading role through a political declaration. Each of the organization represents over 100 countries, and their support indicated the confidence of the international society in the WHO. Besides, regional organizations including the European Union and African Union also showed support for the WHO with concrete actions.
It’s a due responsibility for each party concerned to take actions to support the UN health body.
“I want to know what individuals, companies and organisations can do right now to help protect those who work for the WHO, who are doing such wonderful work and show, in my view, so much humanity,” said a British journalist at a recent press conference of the WHO. Responding to the journalist, Executive Director of WHO Health Emergencies Programme Michael Ryan explained what’s needed in WHO: the space, the support and the solidarity. There are thousands of brave front-line workers all over the world doing that today, he added.
This revealed the common aspiration and general trend of the world, which presents a sharp contrast to the stigmatizing practices of some Western politicians.
Any attempt taking the WHO as a tool for geopolitical game challenges people’s right to life and health. Editor-in-Chief of The Lancet Richard Horton believes the WHO’s sole purpose is to protect the health and wellbeing of the world’s peoples, and the decision to weaken the organization during the pandemic is a crime against humanity, as well as a knowing and inhumane attack against the global civilian population.
Solidarity and cooperation are not merely demanded, but the right choice that must be made. “This virus can wreak havoc – more than any terrorist attack,” stressed Tedros, saying viruses are the common enemy of humans. Secretary-General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres also pointed out that COVID-19 respects no borders, and COVID-19 anywhere is a threat to people everywhere. “In an interconnected world, none of us is safe until all of us are safe,” he said.
The incapability of global health governance discovered by the pandemic is a challenge that the world must face up to. The world is casting its eyes to the World Health Assembly for pandemic containment, the latest analysis of control development, experience sharing and responding plans.
What the world expects is closer cooperation, the hope to defeat the virus, and a bright future to be created by a community of common health for mankind.