In his opening remarks, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus addressed the difficult circumstances some countries of the Eastern Mediterranean Region face, particularly Afghanistan and Lebanon, and reiterated that WHO continues to work to support health systems and the delivery of essential services in the face of difficult circumstances.

“The breakdown in health services is affecting the availability of basic and essential health care, as well as emergency response, polio eradication, and COVID-19 vaccination efforts,” he said.

Addressing the COVID-19 situation in the Region, Ghebreyesus noted that while cases and deaths are at their lowest levels for a year, some countries remain in a very serious situation.

“We need better global governance that is inclusive, equitable and accountable. We seek your commitment to stay the course with proven public health and social measures that we know work, in combination with vaccination; your support for the idea of an international agreement on pandemic preparedness and response; and, third, your support for building a stronger WHO that is empowered and financed sustainably,” Ghebreyesus said.

Regular sessions of the 68th Regional Committee start tomorrow.