The WHO Director stressed that disruptions to health services due to the pandemic have prevented global health coverage from increasing significantly.
Addressing the 75th World Health Assembly on Monday, the World Health Organization (WHO) Director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus reiterated that the COVID-19 pandemic "is far from over."
"The pandemic is far from over. And even as we continue to fight it, we face the task of restoring essential health services, with 90 percent of member states reporting disruption to one or more essential health services," he said, adding that the COVID-19 pandemic had demonstrated why the world needed the WHO.
"We need a stronger and sustainably financed WHO, at the center of the global health security architecture," he said at the annual assembly in Geneva.
"In ways small and large, seen and unseen, I am proud to say that this organization is making a difference," he said.
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The WHO is "far behind" to see 1 billion more people benefitting from universal health coverage. Before the pandemic, the WHO estimated that only 270 million more people would be covered by 2023 -- a shortfall of 730 million people against the target of 1 billion.
"Disruptions to health services during the pandemic have sent us backwards, and we estimate the shortfall could reach 840 million," Ghebreyesus said, adding that governments should put people's health at the center of their plans.
"We are calling on every government to put the health of its people at the center of its plans for development and growth."