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Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Patricia Scotland

Commonwealth Secretary-General calls for urgent global response to coronavirus at World Health Assembly

21 May 2020

The Commonwealth’s Secretary-General has encouraged the international community to take urgent multilateral action to tackle the coronavirus pandemic. 

Patricia Scotland made the comments in a video message to the World Health Assembly.

She said: “The pandemic is affecting every aspect of our human existence.

“The Commonwealth is mobilising to tackle this pandemic and its far-reaching economic and social ramifications.”

She referred to the ministerial statement recently issued by health ministers representing the 54 member countries of the Commonwealth, in which they committed to a coordinated Commonwealth approach to tackling the pandemic and supporting each other through the crisis.

Coronavirus-related travel and trade restrictions have affected many countries, impeding their ability to import affordable essential medical supplies including personal protective equipment, drugs and vaccines.

Commonwealth ministers therefore committed to coordinate their responses in ways which ensure continuous and equitable delivery of life-saving medical supplies. 

The Secretary-General said: “The values and principles of the Commonwealth Charter commit us to solidarity and mutual support in responding to coronavirus and the ensuing economic challenges, with continued attention to the needs of the most vulnerable in society and to fighting climate change.”

As of 21 May, around 5 million coronavirus cases have been reported across the world. Half a million of these are in the Commonwealth. Seven member states are among 12 nations that have not reported any cases.

The Secretary-General thanked the healthcare workers for “representing so much that is noble and best in humanity”.

She commended the leadership of Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus – Director-General of The World Health Organization (WHO) – during the ongoing global health crisis. 

Patricia Scotland said the Commonwealth remained committed to supporting and working with WHO in the fight against the pandemic. 

The World Health Assembly is the principal decision-making forum of WHO. It takes place virtually this year and is attended by officials from the United Nations’ 194 member states.