The World Health Assembly has kicked off in Geneva, Switzerland.

The WHO says: “The theme of this year’s Health Assembly is: Health for peace, peace for health. The COVID-19 pandemic and other health emergencies with international reach have highlighted the leadership and coordinating role of WHO in responding to such events. Strengthening preparedness for and response to health emergencies are a key theme of the Health Assembly.”

The group advises that: “The World Health Assembly is the decision-making body of WHO. It is attended by delegations from all WHO Member States and focuses on a specific health agenda prepared by the Executive Board. The main functions of the World Health Assembly are to determine the policies of the Organization, appoint the Director-General, supervise financial policies, and review and approve the proposed programme budget. The Health Assembly is held annually in Geneva, Switzerland.”

In his opening address WHO Director General, Tedros Ghebreyesus told delegates that the world is still grappling with Covid-19. He said: “More than two years into the most severe health crisis in a century, where do we stand? More than 6 million COVID-19 deaths have been reported to WHO. But as you know, our new estimates of excess mortality are much higher – almost 15 million deaths. Reported cases have declined significantly from the peak of the Omicron wave in January of this year. And reported deaths are at their lowest since March 2020. In many countries, all restrictions have been lifted, and life looks much like it did before the pandemic. So is it over? No, it’s most certainly not over.

Ghebreyesus added: “Only 57 countries have vaccinated 70% of their population – almost all of them high-income countries. We must continue to support all countries to reach 70% vaccination coverage as soon as possible, including 100% of those aged over 60; 100% of health workers; and 100% of those with underlying conditions.”

The World Health Assembly ends on 28 May 2022.

The World Health Organization warns that the gradual destruction of the natural environment would lead to an increase in communicable diseases in the global population.

WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus says early surveillance of these diseases would ensure a proper and collective response during future pandemic outbreaks.

He says an estimated 75% of emerging diseases enter the human population from animal populations.

Watch Ghebreyesus’full lecture here.

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The Minister of Health Dr. Joe Phaahla says the country has, to date, administered more than 30.3-million doses of Covid-19 vaccines to residents.

Phaahla met with the head of the WHO, dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus.

Ghebreyesus was here in the Mother City and visited the Afrigen Biologics & Vaccines facility in Montague Gardens.

Phaahla says the country has made a lot of progress over the last few months to deliver Covid-19 vaccines to residents.

The minister says one of the biggest challenges now is to get young people vaccinated.

Access the full briefing here.

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The Head of the World Health Organisation, Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus says South Africa’s mRNA vaccine technology transfer hub in Montagu Gardens is a game-changer in combatting many diseases, not just Covid-19.

Ghebreyesus was in Cape Town on 11 February and visited the Afrigen Biologics & Vaccines facility as well as the Biomedical Research Institute based at Stellenbosch University’s Tygerberg Medical Campus, and Biovac.

President Cyril Ramaphosa met with Ghebreyesus in Cape Town today and they discussed the progress in making Africa self-sufficient in the production of COVID-19 vaccines and related treatments.

Ghebreyesus and the Belgian Minister of Development Cooperation Meryame Kitir are on a two-day visit to various vaccine-related sites around Cape Town.

President Ramaphosa has welcomed this oversight visit by the World Health Organisation as an opportunity to profile the depth of intellectual and technological capacity on the African continent, and the integrity with which intellectual property is being leveraged to enable vaccine production in Africa.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says reaching a global vaccination equity target of 40% needs a whole of government & society approach.

WHO Director General, Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus says a more aggressive approach is needed to ensure that globally, more people get immediate access to a Covid-19 vaccine.

He says like any other natural disaster the Covid-19 pandemic should also be treated with urgency.

Read more here.

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