"The World and Japan" Database (Project Leader: TANAKA Akihiko)
Database of Japanese Politics and International Relations
National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS); Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia (IASA), The University of Tokyo

[Title] WHO Director-General's opening remarks at the media briefing– 14 September 2022

[Date] September 14, 2022
[Source] World Health Organization
[Full text]

Last week, the number of weekly reported deaths from COVID-19 was the lowest since March 2020.

We have never been in a better position to end the pandemic.

We are not there yet, but the end is in sight.

A marathon runner does not stop when the finish line comes into view. She runs harder, with all the energy she has left.

So must we.

We can see the finish line. We're in a winning position. But now is the worst time to stop running.

Now is the time to run harder and make sure we cross the line and reap the rewards of all our hard work.

If we don't take this opportunity now, we run the risk of more variants, more deaths, more disruption, and more uncertainty.

So let's seize this opportunity.

Today, WHO is releasing six short policy briefs that outline the key actions that all governments must take now to finish the race.

It's a summary, based on the evidence and experience of the last 32 months, of what works best to save lives, protect health systems, and avoid social and economic disruption.

These policy briefs are an urgent call for governments to take a hard look at their policies, and strengthen them for COVID-19 and future pathogens with pandemic potential.

We urge all countries to invest in vaccinating 100% of the most at-risk groups, including health workers and older people, as the highest priority on the road to 70% vaccine coverage;

Keep testing and sequencing for SARS-CoV-2, and integrate surveillance and testing services with those for other respiratory diseases, including influenza;

Make sure you have a system in place for giving patients the care that is right for them, and integrate care for COVID-19 into primary health care systems;

Plan for surges of cases, and make sure you have the supplies, equipment and health workers you will need;

Maintain infection prevention and control precautions to protect health workers and non-COVID patients in health facilities;

Communicate clearly with communities about any changes you make to your COVID-19 policies, and why;

And train health workers to identify and address misinformation, and develop high-quality health information in digital formats.

The briefs contain more detail on the specific actions governments can take, and are now available online.

Since New Year's Eve 2019 – and every day since then – WHO has worked without rest to warn the world, and to give people everywhere the tools they need to stay safe, save lives, and keep societies functioning.

We've helped countries to build oxygen plants and treatment centres;

We've shipped millions of masks, gowns, tests, vaccines and more to countries that need them, all over the world;

Doctors, nurses and other health workers have relied on WHO's guidelines to protect themselves and treat their patients;

We've advised governments on how to find the right mix of public health measures;

With our partners in COVAX, we've delivered more than 1.7 billion doses of vaccine around the world, and low-income countries have relied on us for three-quarters of their vaccine doses;

We're supporting low- and middle-income countries to develop their own vaccine manufacturing capacity;

We've supported countries to maintain health systems and services under pressure;

We've fought misinformation and disinformation;

And every single day, we continue to bring the world's experts together to share the latest scientific knowledge, monitor trends, analyse the evidence and advise the world.

That is what we will continue to do until the pandemic is truly over.

We can end this pandemic together, but only if all countries, manufacturers, communities and individuals step up and seize this opportunity.


I'm incredibly proud of our incredible people and the incredible things they have done throughout the pandemic – and which they continue to do even while responding to numerous other emergencies around the world.

In Pakistan, we are continuing to support the government to respond to the floods that have affected 33 million people and damaged almost 1500 health facilities, leaving millions of people without access to health services.

Even as the water recedes, the health needs are rising.

Together with the Ministry of Health, we are coordinating the response to those needs, by leading an urgent assessment of which health services have been affected the most, in which areas.

We're preparing for, and responding to, outbreaks of measles, cholera and malaria, and supporting treatment for respiratory, skin and eye infections, typhoid, malnutrition and more.

Immediately after the floods struck, WHO allocated 10 million US dollars from our Contingency Fund for Emergencies, which we are using to deliver essential medicines and other supplies, across 26 districts.

This includes tents for temporary health facilities, water purification equipment that can produce enough clean water for 5,000 people per day, and oral rehydration sachets for 1 million people.

We will continue to stand side-by-side with the people of Pakistan now and as they recover and rebuild.

Meanwhile, the downward trend in the global monkeypox outbreak is continuing.

But as with COVID-19, this is not the time to relax or let down our guard.

This is the time for all affected countries and communities to keep doing what is working.

Countries and health workers still need support to prepare for, to recognize, to test and to treat cases, and to prevent infections.

We especially urge affected countries to share genome sequences, so we can better understand how the virus is evolving.

Finally, this Saturday, the 17th of September, is World Patient Safety Day.

Our focus this year is on "Medication Without Harm".

Medicines are powerful tools for protecting health.

But medicines that are wrongly prescribed, taken incorrectly or are of poor quality, can cause serious harm, and even death.

Globally, one in 20 patients suffers avoidable medication harm, and unsafe medication practices and medication errors account for half of all avoidable harm in medical care.

WHO is working to reduce medication-related harm and prevent this needless suffering, by supporting countries to inform and empower patients;

By improving the naming, labelling and packaging of medicines;

By supporting health and care workers to avoid errors;

And by improving medication systems and practices to reduce the risks of harm.

This World Patient Safety Day, cities around the world will light up monuments in orange as a statement that everyone has a role to play in medication safety, and achieving Medication Without Harm.

Because no one should be harmed while seeking care.

Tarik, back to you.