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G77, China voice support for WHO amid pandemic

By HONG XIAO at the United Nations | China Daily Global | Updated: 2020-04-21 12:10

Director-General of the WHO Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, attends a news conference on the novel coronavirus in Geneva, Switzerland, Feb 11, 2020. [Photo/Agencies]

The Group of 77 (G77) and China extended full support and appreciation for the work of the World Health Organization (WHO), calling for international solidarity, multilateral cooperation and partnership in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

As the largest intergovernmental international organization composed of developing countries, the Geneva-based G77, in concert with China, issued a statement Sunday in support of the WHO, which follows the group's first statement on COVID-19 on April 3.

The joint statement said the countries were "deeply concerned at the rapid spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the most serious public health crises in modern history", stressing that "the first priority is to save lives".

"The group, therefore, acknowledges the leading role of the World Health Organization led by its Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, and extends its full support and appreciation for its work in providing information, technical guidance, training and other assistance to developing countries to help them prepare for and efficiently respond to the pandemic," the G77 statement said.

The G77 and China echoed the view of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, emphasizing that "unity must prevail, so that the international community can work together in solidarity to stop this virus and its shattering consequences".

"The international community must unite in its efforts to ensure access to scientific guidance, training, equipment, essential medical supplies, and concrete life-saving services to countries in greatest need and in regions where the full impact is yet to be felt," the statement continued.

The document called on "all members of the global community to maintain and, where possible, increase their support for the WHO, which, by the mandate given to it by member states, has a critical and central role to play in supporting developing countries to confront a crisis of epic scale that threatens to erase the gains made over the past decades.

"We reiterate the need to strengthen international solidarity and multilateral cooperation and partnership in the fight against a disease that is the common enemy of mankind," said the statement.

With a total of 134 member states, the G77 is aimed at strengthening solidarity and cooperation and promoting the economic and social development of developing countries.

In a related development, the top health officials of the Group of 20 (G20) nations highlighted the need to further coordinate efforts and to support the role of the WHO in combating COVID-19.

During a virtual meeting Sunday hosted by Saudi Arabia, the G20 health ministers and other invited officials, including representatives from the WHO and the World Bank Group, voiced their support for the WHO in playing a leading role in coordinating global efforts against the novel coronavirus.

Ma Xiaowei, minister in charge of China's National Health Commission, said China is willing to implement the consensus reached at the Extraordinary G20 Leaders' Summit in late March and called on all parties to continue supporting the WHO.

"Today, the exchange of national practices to overcome all the negative consequences of COVID-19 is very important," said Russian Health Minister Mikhail Murashko. "And in this situation, the leading role of the WHO is important."

Canadian Health Minister Patty Hajdu also expressed her hope that under the leadership of the WHO, countries can form joint efforts to unleash power that no single country can achieve alone, adding that they need to make sure that no nation falls behind.

Speaking at the virtual meeting from Geneva, WHO chief Tedros told the health ministers that his agency "has sounded the alarm bell loud and clear" since the beginning.

Tedros' remarks came after the United States announced Tuesday a decision to halt funding to the WHO, which US President Donald Trump accused of "severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus".

Xinhua contributed to this story.

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