Geneva, Switzerland

24 February 2020

Secretary-General’s press encounter at the World Health Organization

SG: I want first of all to express my enormous gratitude and admiration for the staff of the World Health Organization (WHO).
When I visited Beni a few months ago, I could see the courage, the resilience of WHO staff fighting Ebola in the DRC (Democratic Republic of the Congo), living in extremely harsh conditions, risking their lives in a very insecure area and doing everything to serve the Congolese people and to avoid the dramatic impact of that disease, both in the DRC and the risk of propagation.
Now here it's a different case. But the same resilience, the same commitment, the same hard work with teams that 24 hours, after 24 hours are following everything that is happening in the world and are giving support to governments - the Government of China, governments all over the world - in order to make sure that this terrible disease is contained.
I think it's important to say that all countries - and this is now a problem that is affecting many countries in the world - all countries must do everything to be prepared.
And all countries must do everything, respecting naturally the principle of non-discrimination, without stigmatisation, respecting human rights - but doing everything that they can to contain the disease.
The disease, it's still possible to be contained, but if some fail, if some do not do everything that is needed, this can still become out of control with dramatic consequences in global health and the global economy.
So my strong appeal to all countries (is) to assume their responsibilities and knowing that they can fully count on the WHO to support them in that effort.
Q:  You have expressed your concerns.  Can you tell us if you are able to bring political commitment and help with the funding issues, the funding gap at WHO and some of the other response partners are facing? And do you think the response has been enough? How are you helping to get them over the hump in funding?
SG:  Well, if there is something that is completely stupid to do in today's world, it is not to fully fund WHO appeals.  Because WHO appeals are vital to support Member States and avoid this tragic disease to become a global nightmare.
So my appeal to all donors is to make sure that WHO appeals, in relation of course to this virus, but also in relation to the other commitments of WHO around the world, Ebola and many others, that WHO appeals are fully funded.
Q: [in French] D’après vous, est-ce que la lutte contre le coronavirus en Chine est efficace jusqu’à aujourd’hui et quel message vous allez envoyer pour la population chinoise, surtout la population de Wuhan, qui lutte aujourd’hui avec difficulté contre le virus?
SG : Je tiens à vous transmettre que l'information que j'ai obtenue de l'Organisation Mondiale de la Santé, d’après la visite récemment faite en Chine, c'est que dès le commencement du mois de février, le nombre de cas est en train de baisser.
Et ça c'est une très bonne indication.  Et j'espère que cette indication puisse être maintenue d'une façon [continue].
Et mon message à tous ceux qui maintenant en Chine sont privés de beaucoup des aspects d’une vie normale, c'est un message de gratitude, parce que ce sont les sacrifices de ceux qui sont privés des aspects positifs de la vie dont nous jouissons, ceux qui sont privés de ça pour éviter que la maladie [ne] se propage, sont en train de rendre service à l'humanité.
Merci beaucoup.