WHO results report shows global health achievements despite COVID-19 pandemic – Reuters

16 May 2022, Geneva — Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Health Organization’s Performance Report 2020-2021 charts WHO’s significant achievements in global health. Released ahead of the World Health Assembly next week, the report details achievements such as delivering more than 1.4 billion doses of vaccine through the COVAX facility, recommending wide use of the first malaria vaccine in the world and WHO’s response to some 87 health emergencies, including COVID-19.

During 2020-2021, WHO led the largest-ever global response to a health crisis, working with 1,600 technical and operational partners, and helped galvanize the most important vaccination campaign, the fastest and most complex in history. The Organization has spent US$1.7 billion on essential supplies for the COVID-19 response.

“Even as the WHO responded to the most serious global health crisis in a century, we continued to support our Member States in dealing with many other health threats, despite tight budgets and disrupted services,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.

“As the world continues to respond and recover from the pandemic in the years to come, WHO’s priority is to invest even more resources for our work in countries, where it matters most,” he continued. “Ensuring that the WHO has sustainable, predictable and flexible funding is essential to fulfilling our mission of promoting health, keeping the world safe and serving vulnerable people.”

The ACT-A partnership has delivered over one billion doses of the COVID-19 vaccine by January 2022. The global deployment of critical health equipment included nearly $500 million in personal protective equipment; $187 million in oxygen supplies, $4.8 million in treatments and $110 million in diagnostic tests.

However, much more needs to be done to put the world on track to meet the WHO’s goal of every country vaccinating 70% of its population by July 2022.

WHO performance beyond the pandemic

The results report reveals remarkable achievements beyond the pandemic. Mandatory policies prohibiting the use of trans fatty acids (a dangerous dietary compound linked to cardiovascular disease) are in effect for 3.2 billion people in 58 countries. Of these countries, 40 have good practice policies, including Brazil, Peru, Singapore, Turkey and the United Kingdom. WHO Replace Initiative aims for a world without trans fats by the end of 2023.

Thanks to the implementation of the measures prescribed by the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, tobacco consumption is decreasing in 150 countries, saving lives and livelihoods.

Through efforts to scale up life-saving interventions guided by WHO guidelines, 15 countries have successfully eliminated mother-to-child transmission of HIV and/or syphilis.

And the WHO recommendation to use the world’s first malaria vaccine (RTS,S) on a large scale has been administered to more than one million children. It is expected to save 40,000 to 80,000 lives per year, when used with other malaria control interventions.

A voice for health equity

The report demonstrates the crucial role of the WHO as a global guardian of health, championing health equity in a world where inequalities are widening.

The severe costs of the pandemic have been felt everywhere. The report paints a picture of a world that is clearly further away from achieving crucial global health goals. Due to a myriad of disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, countries have lagged behind the WHO’s ‘Triple Billion Goals’ which provide critical pathways to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

Progress on universal health coverage and improving people’s health is about a quarter or less of the pace needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, and no country was fully prepared for a pandemic of such magnitude.

COVID-19 has also caused huge disruptions to health services: 117 out of 127 countries surveyed reported disruption to at least one essential health service due to COVID, while the average disruption in these countries was 45 %.

Going forward, achieving the triple billion goals will be WHO’s overarching goal, as a measurable way to reduce health equity gaps.

Key role of sustainable finance

The results report details WHO’s efforts towards transparency and accountability, providing details on expenditures. The WHO program budget for 2020-2021 was $5,840.4 million. In fact, funding reached US$7,916 million, due to COVID-19 emergency operations. The surplus is due to the generosity of donors, including 12 Member States who provided approximately 71% of the total funding.

However, the bulk of WHO’s funding is allocated by donors through determined voluntary contributions. Flexible funds represented only 20% of total funding in 2020-21.

If WHO is to play its full role in achieving the SDGs, achieving universal health coverage, reducing the burden of ill health and protecting an additional 1 billion people from health emergencies, the share of regular, stable and predictable funding must increase.

Note to Editors

COVAX is co-led by CEPI, Gavi and WHO, alongside UNICEF, a key delivery partner. In the Americas, the PAHO Revolving Fund is the recognized procurement agent for COVAX.

WHO Triple Billion Goals by 2023: 1 billion more people benefiting from universal health coverage; 1 billion additional people better protected against health emergencies; 1 billion more people enjoying better health and well-being.

Media contacts:

WHO Media: [email protected]

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