The World Health Organisation (WHO) has urged governments to maintain and not dismantle the systems built for COVID-19 intervention.
Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, said this during online media conference.
Ghebreyesus said that although COVID-19 was over as a global health emergency, it remained a global health threat.
According to him, cases and deaths continue to be reported from around the world.
He said that although people were better protected by vaccination and prior infection, this was not an excuse to let down the guard.
WHO boss said the organisation would continue to advise people at high risk to wear a mask in crowded places, to get boosters when recommended, and to ensure adequate ventilation indoors.
He advised that governments should continue to conduct surveillance and report, to track variants, to provide early clinical care, to provide boosters for the most at-risk groups, to improve ventilation, and communicate regularly.
On immunisation, he said that data
showed promising signs that immunidation services were rebounding in some countries after disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In 2022, four million more children received immunisations than in 2021.
“This is encouraging news, but large gaps remain, and global and regional averages mask severe and persistent inequities, especially in low-income countries.
“More than 20 million children missed out on one or more vaccines in 2022 and almost 15 million missed out entirely.
“While these numbers are lower than 2021, they’re still higher than pre-pandemic levels,” he said.
The boss said countries were still falling behind with the targets to reach children with measles, HPV, yellow fever and many other vaccines, risking outbreaks and suffering as a result of diseases that could be easily prevented.
Ghebreyesus said that of the 75 countries with substantial declines in immunisation, only 15 recovered to pre-pandemic levels, with the rest stagnant or even declining further.
According to him, most concerningly, low-income countries are not yet showing signs of recovery.
He said that in response, WHO, UNICEF and other partners had launched the Big Catch-up, working with the most-affected countries to catch-up, recover and strengthen immunization infrastructure.(NAN)(
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