Involving 100 countries and around 2,500 participants, the Berlin-based summit is backed by the UN World Health Organization (WHO) and geared towards improving health worldwide and respond to global health challenges.
In his vido message, Guterres ran through the many disruptive effects of the coronavirus pandemic beyond the loss of more than 1,147,000 lives and 42.5 million cases.
According to him, around 500 million jobs have disappeared, with a monthly loss to the global economy of around $375 billion. Gender-based violence has skyrocketed, and mental illness is a crisis within a crisis. Some 24 million children could drop out of school with lifelong impact.
“Covid-19 is driving us even farther off-course from achieving the vision and promise of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”, said the UN chief in a press release issued on Sunday.
Guterres said the first hard lesson of the crisis was that the international community was not prepared.
“Global health and emergency response systems have been tested and found wanting. Access to health is a human right denied to billions of people around the world. Universal Health Coverage is the path to high-quality, equitable, affordable healthcare. Strong public health systems and emergency preparedness are essential steps to greater resilience," he stated.
The second lesson was protecting the vulnerable is key. Governments need to work with communities everywhere to share reliable information and build trust.
“Third, we need global solidarity every step of the way. Developed countries must support health systems in countries that are short of resources”, said Guterres.
The fourth lesson was that misinformation and disinformation are deadly allies of the virus. They are contributing to deaths and infections, and to social tensions that have led to violence.
“Let us use this opportunity to confront the covid-19 crisis together, with the urgency and integrity it requires”, he concluded.