On June 25, WHO Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and Dr Hand Kluge, Regional Director of WHO Europe, spoke at the European Parliament Committee for Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) on the fight against COVID-19 and the global response and highlighted the leadership of the European Union during this unprecedented time.
“The EU is in a unique position to provide global leadership in defining the “new normal” as part of the global recovery”, Dr Tedros said.
He reminded parlamentarians, that “although the situation in Europe has improved, globally it is still getting worse” and he added that “In the first month of this outbreak, less than 10,000 cases were reported to WHO. In the last month, almost 4 million cases have been reported.”.
The pandemic is showing how essential it is for governments at all levels, including local governments, to strengthen their capacity for prevention, preparedness and response.
But plans for the post-COVID-19 recovery, and to reduce the risk of future epidemics, must go further upstream than early detection and control of disease outbreaks – “they must also lessen our impact on the environment, to reduce risk at the source”, Dr Tedros stressed.
In this regard, Dr Tedros welcomed the Team Europe approach and the European Union plans for a greener recovery, bringing nature back in our lives. He also praised the Global Coronavirus Response pledging campaign launched by the EU, which has so far raised €9.8 billion, and said more is needed.
Dr Kluge emphasized the complementarities and synergies between the European Programme of Work, entitled United Action for Better Health” entitled, in supporting WHO’s Thirteenth General Programme of Work (GPW13) and the EU4Health Programme of the European Commission.
Dr Kluge warned parliamentarians about a second wave in Europe and that countries should be prepared. In this regard, he announced that the WHO European Region has started an ACTION REVIEW, gathering lessons learned in order to develop policy options to help countries to prepare for the Autumn.
The Regional Director underlined that “health systems based on strong primary health care are the foundation for health security and universal health coverage” and that national routine immunization programmes needs to be maintained during the pandemic, he said.