WHO Director-General's opening remarks at the ACT Accelerator Facilitation Council

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Your Excellency Dr Mathume Joseph Phaahla, Minister of Health of South Africa,

Dear colleagues and friends,

Good morning, good afternoon and good evening,

The number of weekly reported deaths from COVID-19 has been declining for the past six weeks, and is now at the lowest level in almost a year.

This is welcome news, but the number of people dying is still unacceptably high – almost 50,000 deaths a week, and the real number is certainly higher.

And of course, deaths are highest in the countries and populations with the least access to vaccines.

As you know, 56 countries who were effectively excluded from the global vaccine marketplace were not able to reach the target of vaccinating 10% of their populations by the end of September – most of them in Africa.

Even more countries are at risk of missing the 40% vaccination target by the end of this year; we also run the risk missing our other targets of achieving minimum testing rates of 1 per 1000 people; and ensuring all those who need it have access to medical oxygen, treatments and PPE.

Support for the ACT Accelerator is needed urgently if we are to achieve these targets.

The ACT Accelerator Strategic Review was published last week, recommending that its mandate continue into 2022, but also highlighting areas for strengthening and development.

WHO welcomes the recommendations of the review and is committed to working with our partners to strengthen the ACT Accelerator.

The new Strategy and Budget, which will be presented today, sets out the actions and resources needed to achieve our targets.

But nothing can be done without the support of countries and without you, our Facilitation Council.

A fully-funded ACT Accelerator is a global health security imperative.

Without it, millions of people will continue to miss out on vaccines, tests and treatments globally, the pandemic will be prolonged and more lives will be lost.

The stakes are high. I hope that today our ambition will match the scale of the challenges we face.

Thank you as always for your continued support and engagement.