World faces ‘formidable’ challenges over COVID-19, monkeypox, warns WHO
The world is facing "formidable" challenges, including COVID-19, monkeypox, and the war in Ukraine, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned.
Addressing the opening session of the UN World Health Assembly in Geneva on Sunday, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the “formidable convergence” of the new disease and the ongoing COVID pandemic needed to be dealt with by world leaders.
The summit was called by the UN health agency to discuss the monkeypox outbreak in 15 nations outside Africa.
"Of course, the [Covid] pandemic is not the only crisis in our world,” Tedro said. "As we speak our colleagues around the world are responding to outbreaks of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo, monkeypox and hepatitis of unknown cause, and complex humanitarian crises in Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan, the Syrian Arab Republic, Ukraine, and Yemen.
"We face a formidable convergence of disease, drought, famine, and war, fueled by climate change, inequity, and geopolitical rivalry," the WHO head added.
Tedros said despite the removal of COVID-19 restrictions in many countries which have made life look more normal, reported cases of the virus were increasing in almost 70 countries in all regions.
He said almost one billion people in lower-income countries remained unvaccinated and the WHO’s primary focus now was to support countries to turn vaccines into vaccinations as fast as possible.
"The pandemic will not magically disappear. But we can end it. We have the knowledge. We have the tools. Science has given us the upper hand," the WHO chief said, adding “it was not over anywhere until it was over everywhere."
"This virus has surprised us at every turn – a storm that has torn through communities again and again, and we still can’t predict its path or its intensity," he pointed out.
On Saturday, the world health body warned that more monkeypox cases are
likely to be identified as surveillance expands in non-endemic countries.