Lives & livelihoods are interdependent, can’t go back to how things were, says WHO chief

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At a virtual summit, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says focus should remain on helping the vulnerable population and that people must learn to live with social distancing.

New Delhi: There’s no choice between lives and livelihoods as the two are interdependent and must be protected equally, said World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus Wednesday.

Tedros was delivering the keynote address on day three of the Sankalp Global Summit 2020’s ‘Health and Wash Session’.

During his address, Tedros said that while the global conversation is revolving around choosing between lives and livelihoods, the focus should remain on health too.

“The conversation around the world is between lives and livelihoods. But there is no such choice as the two are not independent, but interdependent. When people are healthy, only then can they innovate,” he said.

The virtual summit, which started on 2 November, will continue until 6 November. The summit has over 5,000 delegates from India and over 30 countries are participating. The focus of the summit is ‘An Entrepreneurial Renaissance — Designing An Impact Economy’.

Focus on vulnerable groups

The WHO chief, who is in self-isolation after one of his contacts tested positive, said the focus should remain on helping the vulnerable population. 

He said people should find ways to help each other during the pandemic, and for this, he listed a few ways. This includes finding a way to contribute to community response, staying informed about the facts and best practices of hygiene and social distancing, and advocating for more preparedness in health so that if such a pandemic strikes again, healthcare systems are better prepared.

In addition, workplaces should also set examples of safety measures and plan how to handle a similar crisis in the future if a pandemic strikes again, Tedros added.

The summit comes at a time when the US and the UK, as well as parts of Europe are witnessing a second wave of coronavirus infections.

India, however, registered a decline in cases over the last week. 

According to the health ministry, as of Wednesday, India has recorded a total of 83,13,876 cases with 1,23,611 deaths and 76,56,478 recoveries.

The global tally according to the WHO dashboard stands at 47,059,867 total cases with 12,07,327 deaths. 

‘Must learn to live with social distancing’
At the summit, Tedros said focus should remain on taking care of mental health along with physical health. “There is no health without mental health,” he said.

The WHO chief further said in order for the community to tide over the pandemic, people must learn to live with social distancing.

“We can’t go back to the way things were,” he added.

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