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WHO Director-General’s opening remarks at the global health issues media briefing – 16 November 2022

Good morning, good afternoon, and good evening.


Today I’m joining you from Bali, Indonesia, where the G20 Summit has just concluded.


Over the past two days, I’ve had the opportunity to meet with several world leaders and to address the Summit itself.


My message was that, as the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated, when health is at risk, everything is at risk.


Conflicts around the world, climate change, and global crises in food and energy security have now overshadowed the pandemic as the most pressing issues for world leaders.


But each of these crises has profound implications for health.


The lack of food and energy, or their over-consumption, can have severe consequences for health and economies.


Protecting health against the impacts of these crises is essential, but it also helps to protect economies and societies.


I congratulate the G20 leaders on the adoption of their declaration, which includes strong support for health and health security.


The G20 leaders said they remain committed to a healthy and sustainable recovery from the pandemic, and building towards achieving and sustaining universal health coverage under the Sustainable Development Goals.


They reaffirmed their commitment to strengthen global health governance, with the leading and coordinating role of WHO.


They expressed support for the work of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body, which is negotiating the pandemic accord.


They extended the mandate of the G20 Joint Finance and Health Task Force, which is critical for ensuring adequate financing for pandemic preparedness and response.


They expressed support for the work of the WHO mRNA Technology Transfer Hub in South Africa.


And they welcomed the establishment of the new Pandemic Fund, which was launched in Bali on Sunday.


Yesterday, WHO also signed an agreement with Indonesia’s ministries of health and defense to establish a new training hub for emergency medical teams, to boost national, regional and global readiness for health emergencies.


I thank Indonesia for its leadership as President of the G20 this year, and we look forward to working closely with India next year.




Now, an update on the Ebola outbreak in Uganda.


Since we briefed you last week, there have been 6 more confirmed cases and 1 probable case of Ebola in Uganda, bringing the total to 141 confirmed and 22 probable cases.


There have also been 2 more confirmed Ebola deaths and 1 probable death, for a total of 55 confirmed and 22 probable deaths. 73 patients have now recovered.


The government’s efforts to respond to the outbreak have slowed transmission in most districts, and two districts have not reported any cases for 42 days, indicating the virus is no longer present in those districts.


However, in the past week the district of Jinja reported its first case, becoming the ninth district to be affected.


WHO and partners are supporting the government to intensify detailed case investigation, contact tracing, community engagement, and infection prevention & control measures.


Since the outbreak began, the Government of Uganda, together with researchers, funders, companies, regulatory authorities and other experts has been working under a global effort coordinated by WHO to accelerate the development and deployment of vaccines for use in trials.


Today, I’m pleased to announce that a WHO committee of external experts has evaluated three candidate vaccines and agreed that all three should be included in the planned trial in Uganda.


WHO and Uganda’s Minster of Health have considered and accepted the committee’s recommendation.


We expect the first doses of vaccine to be shipped to Uganda next week.


A separate group of experts has selected two investigational therapeutics for a trial, as well as a trial design that is now being submitted for approval by WHO and authorities in Uganda.




Tomorrow, I will travel to Qatar to participate in the opening of the FFIA World Cup, to highlight how major sporting events can contribute to improving health around the world and drive progress towards WHO’s goal of health for all.


The World Cup is one of the greatest shows on earth, with an estimated audience of 5 billion people.


WHO is working with Qatar and FIFA to deliver a healthy World Cup, with a range of activities to promote physical and mental health for all people in Qatar and around the world.


Together we have designed measures to reduce the risk of diseases spreading at the World Cup, including COVID-19;


We’re promoting healthy food options at stadia and fan zones, and we’re conducting a study on ways to influence consumers to choose healthier food options.


And tobacco use is banned in seating areas inside all stadia.


We’re also working with FIFA to promote physical activity, healthy diets and other elements of healthy living to the World Cup’s global audience, with pitchside advertising boards, videos in stadia and fan zones, extensive messaging on television and social media, and more.


Lessons learned from the World Cup will also be shared with the International Olympic Committee to support preparations for the Paris Olympics in 2024, and the Milano Cortina Winter Olympics in 2026.


WHO’s goodwill ambassadors Alisson Becker, Brazil’s goalkeeper, and former Côte d’Ivoire striker Didier Drogba will be supporting our work.




Finally, on Monday, WHO released an update of its Family Planning Handbook, which provides health workers and policy makers with the most current information on contraceptive options.


This new edition details measures for health workers to protect access to family planning services during emergencies.


During the initial phases of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, approximately 70% of countries reported disruptions to family planning services, increasing the risks of unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections.


The updated handbook includes recommendations for wider access to self-administered contraceptives, including injectable contraceptives, which only need to be taken every 2 to 3 months.


We urge all countries to adopt these recommendations. When all people have access to contraceptives, unintended pregnancies can be prevented, and people can plan their lives and families.


Margaret, back to you.



Source: World Health Organization

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