WHO chief thanks UAE for Turkey-Syria earthquake relief efforts

Dr Tedros says the UAE is playing a vital role with flights, medical supplies and surgical trauma kits

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Nandini Sircar

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WHO director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus visits an area in the northern city of Aleppo. — AFP
WHO director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus visits an area in the northern city of Aleppo. — AFP

Published: Tue 14 Feb 2023, 8:06 PM

Last updated: Tue 14 Feb 2023, 8:13 PM

The UAE has been a key supporter of the World Health Organisation efforts in providing aid, relief material and medical supplies in the wake of the devastating earthquakes in Turkey and Syria.

World Health Organisation (WHO) Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus expressed his gratitude to the UAE during a virtual address on Day 2 of the World Government Summit for its assistance in transporting urgent relief supplies and equipment to support on-ground aid efforts and search and rescue activities in both countries.

Dr Tedros who is currently in Syria to coordinate WHO’s response for the catastrophic earthquake, said: “The UAE is playing a vital role in our work…with flights, medical supplies and surgical trauma kits. So far, we have distributed 110 tonnes of medical supplies to affected areas throughout the Syrian Arab Republic. The UAE is playing an important part in WHO’s work around the world on emergency preparedness, response and resilience.”

He reiterated that the earthquake is another reminder for all countries to build their capacities for health emergencies and response framework.

“With urbanisation, habitat destruction, intensive agriculture and climate change these risks are increasing. The WHO’s newly established fund for pandemic, prevention, preparedness and response (PPR) will help provide support to countries that need it most. We must strive to have new platforms to have equitable access to medical products and to build resilient and scalable clinical care. Even as we strengthen the world against different health emergencies, we must take action in many other health needs that are just as deadly but get fewer headlines.”

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He also underlined that the compounding crises of conflict, Covid, cholera, economic decline and now the earthquake have taken an unbearable toll.

He added: “Far too many women and children still die of childbirth complications. Many people still die of HIV, TB, Malaria and tropical diseases. Far too many still die with non-communicable diseases driven by products that harm health and are promoted aggressively. Far too many people die due to unsafe roads, unsafe medicine and healthcare, unsafe cooking fuel and unsafe water and sanitization. Far too many people also die of pollution and climate-related health threats. Progress towards sustainable development goals has slowed and the window of opportunity is narrowing. WHO is therefore very grateful of the United Arab Emirates’ partnership and leadership in responding to many of these threats through initiatives like the Government Accelerator Programme to deliver faster impacts through collaboration and innovation.”

He averred while the WHO is working across all affected areas and further scaling up relief efforts but greater collaboration across divergent areas impacting humanity will help in effective outcomes.

“I am also very pleased that the UAE will host COP28 later this year and will make health a key part of those discussions. The climate crisis is a health crisis and climate solutions are health solutions like renewable energy, healthy and sustainable food systems, healthy and green cities. Ultimately, the Covid-19 pandemic shows that we are one humanity sharing one planet. I thank Your Highnesses and the people of the UAE for your continued commitment to a healthier, safer and fairer future for all,” he added.


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