The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) is calling for stepped-up production of medical equipment and supplies as health facilities and health workers in many countries struggle with increasing and urgent demands brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told journalists in Geneva that he had spoken to trade ministers from the world’s leading economic forum, the G20, about ways to address the chronic shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) and other essential medical supplies.
“We call on countries to work with companies to increase production; to ensure the free movement of essential health products; and to ensure equitable distribution of those products, based on need”, Tedros said, placing specific emphasis on low and middle-income countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
The UN health agency also is “working intensively” with several partners to massively increase access to diagnostics, PPE, medical oxygen, ventilators and other life-saving products, he added.
The rapidly increasing demands of the pandemic are threatening health systems, Tedros said, because “even though we’re in the midst of a crisis, essential health services must continue”.
WHO has published guidelines to help countries balance the demands of pandemic response while maintaining essential health services which include routine vaccination, pre-natal care, and treating infectious and non-communicable diseases.
Tedros also welcomed the news that 20,000 healthcare workers in the United Kingdom have offered to return to work, while medical students and trainees in Russia are taking part in the emergency response there.
Original source: UN News
Published on 30 March 2020