New Delhi: On Wednesday (December 14), World Health Organization Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he is hopeful that in 2023, the COVID-19 pandemic will no longer be considered a global health emergency. In a media briefing, Dr Ghebreyesus recalled the trajectory of COVID-19 while sharing the current state of the pandemic and said,
One year ago, Omicron had just been identified and was starting to take off. At that time, COVID-19 was killing 50,000 people each week. Last week, less than 10,000 people lost their lives. That’s still 10,000 too many – and there is still a lot that all countries can do to save lives – but we have come a long way. We are hopeful that at some point next year, we will be able to say that COVID-19 is no longer a global health emergency.
Dr Ghebreyesus clarified that the criteria for declaring an end to the emergency will be among the topics of conversation when the Emergency Committee meets in January. He further shared a word of caution and said that the Novel Coronavirus will not go away. He said,
It’s here to stay, and all countries will need to learn to manage it alongside other respiratory illnesses including influenza and RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus), both of which are now circulating intensely in many countries.
There might be hope but we still face many uncertainties and challenges in 2023 like lack of vaccination. Elaborating on the challenges, Dr Ghebreyesus said,
Only one in five people in low-income countries has been vaccinated. Access to diagnostics and life-saving treatments for COVID-19 remains unacceptably unaffordable and unequal; The burden of the post-COVID-19 condition is only likely to increase; And large gaps in surveillance remain, which is a weakness not only for detecting new variants of COVID-19 but also for monitoring the spread of other infections.
The COVID-19 pandemic was a lesson on health for the world. Talking about the learnings from the pandemic, Dr Ghebreyesus said,
One of the most important lessons of the pandemic is that all countries need to strengthen their public health systems to prepare for, prevent, detect and respond rapidly to outbreaks, epidemics and pandemics. An advanced medical care system is not the same thing as a strong public health system. One of the other key lessons of the pandemic is the need for much stronger cooperation and collaboration, rather than the competition and confusion that marked the global response to COVID-19.
While we might be edging towards the end of the emergency, the beginning of the pandemic that is the outbreak is still unclear. To understand how it began, WHO continues to call on China to share the data and conduct the studies that they have requested, to better understand the origins of this virus.
NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ population, indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.