Africa: 2021 is a tumultuous year, but we know how to end the pandemic and improve health for everyone by 2022.

Africa: 2021 is a tumultuous year, but we know how to end the pandemic and improve health for everyone by 2022.

The year 2021 is coming to a close, and this is a good time to look back and look forward. It was another tough year, but there is so much to be grateful for.

While no country has emerged from the pandemic, we have many new tools to help prevent and treat COVID-19. More than 8.5 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered worldwide and millions of lives have been saved. New treatments have been developed that are designed to dramatically improve access and reduce mortality.

But tight nationalism and the accumulation of vaccines in several countries have undermined justice and created ideal conditions for the emergence of Omicron variants.

Vaccine accumulation creates ideal conditions for the emergence of Omicron

And the longer inequality lasts, the greater the risk of this virus developing in ways we cannot prevent or predict.

'If we end inequality, we will end the pandemic'

Through the ACT Accelerator, which also includes COVAX, WHO and our partners are helping to make vaccines, tests and treatments available to people around the world who need them.

As we enter the third year of this pandemic, I believe that it will be the year we end - but only if we do it together. In addition to the deaths and illnesses caused by COVID-19, the pandemic threatens two decades of advances in healthcare.

Millions of people have missed routine vaccinations, family planning services, treatment for communicable and non-communicable diseases, and more.

However, there are still breakthroughs and progress. WHO has recommended widespread use of the world's first malaria vaccine, which if widely and promptly introduced could save tens of thousands of lives every year.

Elimination of polio has never been this close, with only five cases reported in the remaining two endemic countries. And tobacco consumption continues to decline.

Meanwhile, WHO and our partners have responded to crises around the world, including ending the new Ebola and Marburg outbreaks.

To prepare the world for future epidemics and pandemics, we created the new WHO BioHub system so countries can share new biological material.

And we opened the WHO Center for Pandemic and Epidemic Intelligence in Berlin to leverage innovations in data science to monitor and respond to public health.

COVID-19 is not the only health threat that people around the world will face in the next year. WHO will continue to work around the world to protect and promote the health of people everywhere.

First we have to end the pandemic.

To do this, all countries must work together to achieve the global goal of vaccinating 70% of people in all countries by all parties without fear of punitive action by mid-2022. And we must all do our part with masks, social distancing, avoiding crowds, meeting at outdoors or in a well-ventilated indoor space if possible.

Second, we need to create a stronger global framework for global health security.

By 2022, countries will begin negotiating a global pandemic agreement to strengthen the governance, funding, and systems and tools the world needs to prevent, prepare for, detect, and respond quickly to epidemics and pandemics.

WHO will continue to promote health, keep the world safe and serve the vulnerable.

Third, all countries need to invest in stronger primary health care as the basis for universal health coverage.

COVID-19 has shown that everything is at stake when health is at stake. It is for this reason that WHO will continue to work to promote health, protect the world, and serve the weak.

I wish everyone a happy, safe and healthy 2022 everywhere

From Dr. Tedros Adanom Gebrejesus, Director General of the World Health Organization

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