Thursday, 09 April 2020

Pretoria: African Union (AU) Chair, President Cyril Ramaphosa, has backed the efforts of the World Health Organisation and called for international solidarity against the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In appreciation of these efforts, the African Union extends its unwavering support to the WHO and its Director-General. The AU calls upon the international community to join hands to support the efforts of the DG and the entire WHO family as they lead global efforts to fight this pandemic. If there was a time for global unity, solidarity and cooperation, this is that time. Working together, we will be able to overcome this challenge,” said President Ramaphosa.

The call comes after WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus, in a press conference on Wednesday, said he has received death threats and racist insults while spearheading the global effort to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

With countries faced with daunting and frustrating tasks to contain the spread of the pandemic, the AU Chair called on countries to avoid the temptation to apportion blame to any individual, institution or any country.

“We should work together to confront our common enemy in the form of COVID-19; and we should not allow ourselves to be distracted by anything else. Our success against this pandemic will only be realised through collaboration, cooperation and most importantly through global solidarity,” said President Ramaphosa.

The AU reaffirmed its appreciation for the leadership of Ghebreyesus and commended his management in leading the global response to the pandemic.

The African Union has seen Dr Tedros in action before when he and the world class WHO health experts led global efforts to fight against Ebola Outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

“Overall the AU recognises and appreciates the good work that has been undertaken by the WHO and notes with a sense of satisfaction the various initiatives and measures that are continuously undertaken by the organisation to mitigate the spread of the pandemic such as mobilising resources, sharing the real-time information and providing the technical and material support,” said the AU Chair.

Punting the importance of international solidarity, President Ramaphosa said the African Union has seen first-hand the groundswell of international cooperation since the onset of this pandemic.

President Ramaphosa commended all who supported and pledged to support Africa’s response to COVID-19 by reinforcing the continent’s health systems and helping to mitigate the social and economic impact. These partners include the G20, China, the United States, the European Union, the Jack Ma Foundation, among others.

On a daily basis, the WHO has been an essential technical and scientific partner to the African Union and the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), as countries try to mitigate the pandemic which has now reached nearly every member state.

The African Union thanked all medical personnel who are in the forefront of the battlefield for their selflessness and diligence.

President Ramaphosa further called on all African Union members and international partners to maintain and reinforce this international cooperation and collaboration in the difficult weeks and months ahead.

“May we all continue, as a collective, to play our part to combat this pandemic with vigour and determination in order to return our lives to normalcy.” he said.