WHO Director-General praises the World Health Assembly for its workDr Margaret Chan
Director-General of the World Health Organization
Ladies and gentlemen,
“Transparency” and “solidarity”. These are words I heard repeatedly during the session, and especially during discussion of the item on the International Health Regulations.
Looking at the overall world health situation, my greatest concern right now is the novel coronavirus.
We understand too little about this virus when viewed against the magnitude of its potential threat.
Any new disease that is emerging faster than our understanding is never under control.
We do not know where the virus hides in nature. We do not know how people are getting infected. Until we answer these question, we are empty-handed when it comes to prevention.
These are alarm bells. And we must respond.
The novel coronavirus is not a problem that any single affected country can keep to itself or manage all by itself. The novel coronavirus is a threat to the entire world. As the Chair of committee A succinctly stated: this virus is something that can kill us.
Through WHO and the International Health Regulations, we need to bring together the assets of the entire world in order to adequately address this threat. We need more information, and we need it quickly, urgently.
As I have announced, joint WHO missions with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Tunisia will take place just as soon as possible. The purpose is to gather all the facts needed to conduct a proper risk assessment. I thank these countries for their cooperation and collaboration.
I thank Member States for supporting my views on the seriousness of this situation.