According to him, the agreement covers five main areas of work.
“Although malaria deaths have fallen by more than half since the year 2000, progress has stalled in recent years, and may even reverse if the COVID-19 pandemic disrupts malaria control programmes.
“Last year, WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group on Malaria Eradication and the Lancet Commission on Malaria Eradication both concluded that we will need new tools if we are to achieve the dream of eradicating malaria.
“Both reports called for increased investment in research and development to deliver new tools.
“With WHO’s technical expertise and the European Investment Bank’s financial muscle, we are confident of accelerating the development of those new tools.’’
The director general said second, the two organisations would work together to foster the development of new innovative antibacterial treatments.
“Antibiotic resistance is one the most urgent health challenges of our time; it threatens to unravel a century of medical progress, and leave us defenceless against infections that were previously easily treated.
“Investment in antibiotic development has continued to decline. Some small antibiotic companies went bankrupt in 2019 because of the limited profitability of new antibiotics.
“Very few new antibiotics are in the pipeline. Most of them offer little benefit over existing treatments, and very few target the most critical resistant bacteria.
Third, he said, the organisation would work together to strengthen primary health care and build resilient health systems.
“The COVID-19 crisis has illustrated that even the most sophisticated health systems have struggled to cope with a pandemic.
“With the EIB, we will therefore work urgently to invest in health infrastructure and health workers in 10 countries in Africa and the Middle East, to start with.’’
Ghebreyesus said the fourth area would be to explore support on COVID-19 supply chain.
“This is to facilitate the distribution of diagnostics, personal protective equipment and other medical supplies to countries that need them most.’’
Lastly, he said the organisations would work together to study market failures in other areas of public health, to examine how innovative financing could help overcome investment barriers and increase access to lifesaving products and services.
“The EIB has rich experience in innovative financing.
“I learned from my friend Werner Hoyer today that the EIB were pioneers of so-called “green bonds” 30 years ago, to generate funds for climate and environmental projects – billions of dollars.
“We look forward to seeing how that type of innovative financing could deliver real results for global health, when WHO is advocating health for all.
“As you know, we have been saying that all roads should lead to universal health coverage, and it’s more important than ever to say exactly the same: all roads should lead to universal health coverage, health for all.’’
In addition, he said WHO had also joined the European Commission and other partners to launch the ACT Accelerator, to ensure all people enjoy access to all the tools to prevent, detect and treat COVID-19.
“This coming Monday, May 4, the Commission will host a pledging conference to generate funds for investment in vaccine research.
“I hope you have heard the call from the President of the European Commission, President Ursula von der Leyen,’’ the director general said.
Edited By: Dorcas Jonah/Felix Ajide (NAN)