SA joins WHO's global COVID-19 collaboration

Organisation: Position: Deadline Date: Location:

South Africa has taken part in the launch of the World Health Organisation’s initiative, which will see international collaboration aimed at accelerating the development and production of COVID-19 health technologies. The initiative will also ensure that there is the equitable global access to these technologies.

The virtual launch was co-hosted by WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus; French President Emmanuel Macron; Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. President Cyril Ramaphosa was invited to participate in the launch in his capacity as the South African president and the and chair of the African Union.

Global health actors, private sector partners and other stakeholders came together to create a global platform for action, which aims to enhance connections and leverage inter-dependencies for collective thought-partnership, problem-solving, mobilising and guiding investments.

The platform will secure equitable access for new COVID-19 diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines. It will enable partners to avoid duplication and overlap, and identify gaps and close them before they emerge. It will connect upstream and downstream activities with countries and communities.

Its mission is not only accelerated development and production of new COVID-19 tools, but it is also to accelerate equitable global access to safe, quality, effective and affordable COVID-19 diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines – all to ensure that in the fight against COVID-19, no one is left behind.

The launch of this collaboration starts the 10-day countdown to a coronavirus global response summit on 4 May 2020. This will be a virtual pledging event, spearheaded by the European Union, to mobilise the significant resources needed to accelerate the work towards protecting the world from COVID-19.

In a video message to the launch event, Ramaphosa expressed his appreciation for the timely launch of this collaboration. “Now, more than ever, the world needs solidarity and cooperation to mobilise and guide investments and drive delivery towards equitable access for new COVID-19 diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines.

“The World Health Organisation has been instrumental in supporting African governments with early detection of the pandemic, the training of health workers and in strengthening surveillance in communities, including working with a network of experts to address the containment and prevention of the pandemic,” Ramaphosa said.

Ramaphosa said Africa is extremely vulnerable to the ravages of the virus and needs every possible support and assistance. “For its part, the African Union has established a COVID-19 Response Fund to direct resources to bolster the continent’s response. To date, African countries have contributed a combined amount of $61m to this fund and to support the work of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

“All of our efforts should complement each other. This launch is an important milestone to galvanise global support and to help accelerate the work towards protecting us all from COVID-19. South Africa stands ready to provide the necessary support to you, Dr Ghebreyesus, and the World Health Organisation in the execution of your important mandate.

“I take this opportunity to call upon the international community – for the sake of all humanity – to continue to support and work with the World Health Organisation in leading the fight against this pandemic,” Ramaphosa said.

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