Norwegian prime minister meets with World Health Organization
Jonas Gahr Støre and Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus discuss pandemic situation
In Geneva, the newly appointed Norwegian Prime Minister, Jonas Gahr Støre together with Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) spoke at the daily COVID-19 press conference organised by the WHO.
Dr Tedros spoke some words in Norwegian and greeted the newly appointed Prime Minister warmly. After a short introduction about the worrying situation, where the number of COVID-19 cases are on the rise after two months of continuing decrease world-wide, Dr Tedros gave the floor to Jonas Gahr Støre who worked in the organization when Gro Harlem Brundtland was leading it. The prime minister said that we are indeed in a different phase now than when the ACT Council met for the first time 18 months ago.
Norway has been one of the main supporters of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator and with South Africa the co-share on the Board of the ACT Council.
Yesterday in Geneva the strategic plan and budget for the next 12 months were launched, outlining the urgent actions and funding needed to address deep inequities in the COVID-19 response, save millions of lives and end the acute phase of the pandemic.
“While a new normal is emerging for people who have access to COVID-19 tools, this is still a distant prospect for the majority of the world’s population. Without access to COVID-19 tools, we will not be able to achieve full economic and social recovery. The new ACT-Accelerator strategy is key to address inequities in access to COVID-19 tools. This is a collective effort. Now we must ensure inclusive and effective implementation.” Gahr Støre said.
Inequitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments and vaccines is prolonging the pandemic everywhere and risking the emergence of new, more dangerous variants that could evade current tools to fight the disease. So far, only 0.4% of tests and 0.5% of vaccines administered worldwide have been used in low-income countries, despite these countries comprising 9% of the global population.
The ACT-Accelerator partnership of leading global health agencies needs US$ 23.4 billion to help the most at-risk countries obtain and deploy COVID-19 tools between now and September 2022. This figure pales in comparison to the trillions of dollars in economic losses caused by the pandemic and the cost of stimulus plans to support national recoveries.
The new strategic plan, which integrates key findings of the recent Strategic Review, will see the ACT-Accelerator leverage its progress to date, to shift to a more targeted focus on addressing access gaps in underserved countries, delivering vaccines, treatments, tests and personal protective equipment where they’re most needed.
The new strategic plan integrates key recommendations from an independent Strategic Review of the ACT-Accelerator that was published on 8 October 2021, including to extend the mandate of the ACT-Accelerator, enhance focus on delivery, and further strengthen engagement with low- and middle-income countries and civil society organisations in order to maximise impact.
A key element of the new plan is the reconfigured Health Systems & Response Connector (HSRC). The connector will ensure closer engagement with countries and ensure that they have the necessary technical, operational, and financial resources to deploy tools.