United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Monday that the COVID-19 pandemic is the greatest challenge of our age and it must be a wake-up call for all nations.
Delivering a speech through a video link to the 73rd World Health Assembly, the UN chief said that the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated our global fragility, and despite the enormous scientific and technological advances of recent decades, "a microscopic virus has brought us to our knees."
"Deadly global threats require a new unity and solidarity," he stressed.
Guterres reiterated a three-point response he and the UN have advocated for since the beginning of the pandemic: a large-scale, coordinated and comprehensive health response; policies to address the devastating social and economic dimensions of the crisis; more equal, inclusive and sustainable economies and societies.
"Instead of going back to systems that were unsustainable, we need to make a leap into a future of clean energy, inclusivity and equality, and stronger social safety nets, including universal health coverage," he said, adding that multilateral efforts will be needed in this regard.
In his speech, Guterres also highlighted the importance of the World Health Organization (WHO) and paid tribute to the front-line health workers.
Saying that the WHO is irreplaceable, the UN chief told the conference that the entire UN family stands with the WHO and its staff working worldwide to support member states in saving lives and protecting the vulnerable.
"Either we get through this pandemic together, or we fail. Either we stand together, or we fall apart," he said.