World Health Organization (WHO) Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has said: “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.” But the WHO chief also warned that if the world does not seize the opportunity now, there will be more risks ahead.
As per the ourworldindata COVID-19 dashboard, as of September 16, a total of 4,53,481 new cases had been recorded across the world. On the same day, the cumulative count of cases was 611.33 million. In contrast, the seven day average of new cases hit a peak on 24 January 2022 at 3.44 million cases per day.
Dr Tedros further added that the WHO is releasing six policy briefs outlining the key actions that all governments must take to finish the race.
The briefs are 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. The 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.
The WHO chief urged nations to invest in vaccinating 100% of the most at-risk groups, including health workers and older people, indicating that these groups are the highest priority to achieving 70% vaccine coverage.
Dr Tedros made a strong case for putting in place a system in order to integrate care for COVID-19 into primary health, and said patients should continue to receive the care that is right for them. While the numbers are dropping globally, it is better to plan for surges of cases, ensuring at the same time that one is always prepared to handle emergency or pandemic situations with the necessary supplies, equipment and health workers.
The six policy briefs of the WHO set out guidelines for clinical management of COVID-19; managing infection prevention and control measures for COVID-19 in health care facilities; reaching COVID-19 vaccination targets; COVID-19 infodemic management; and building trust through risk communication and community engagement.
Lalita Panicker is consulting editor, views, Hindustan Times, New Delhi