Minister Mathume Phaahla,
Minister Anne Beathe Tvinnereim,
Commission Stella Kyriakides,
Excellencies, dear colleagues and friends,
Thank you for joining us for the 11th Facilitation Council meeting.
I will start by recognizing our co-chairs, Norway and South Africa, represented by their Ministers today.
Thank you for your leadership, and for sponsoring the upcoming ACT Accelerator Evaluation, which we will hear more about in our meeting today.
My thanks to our co-hosts, the European Commission, for their strong role in the partnership.
I thank the ACT-A agency principals, our envoys, implementing countries, donors, and the industry and civil society representatives that are joining us and of course our two co-chairs of the ACT A.
This is a unique forum that brings together such diverse stakeholders to discuss the further action we need to take collectively to provide equitable access to vaccines, tests, and therapeutics, and to help bring the COVID-19 pandemic under control. We are grateful for your participation.
The context for today’s meeting is troubling. 4 out of 6 WHO regions are experiencing increases in cases, driven by Omicron subvariants BA.4 and 5.
The virus continues to evolve. It remains unpredictable.
Fortunately, we have the tools to significantly reduce severe disease and death.
But so far, these life-saving tools are available to some, but not all. That is why we are here today.
Hundreds of millions of people, including tens of millions of health workers and older people in lower-income countries, remain unvaccinated, which means they are vulnerable to future waves of the virus.
While a record number of countries have finally achieved our 10% and 40% coverage targets, only 58 countries have so far reached the 70 percent vaccination target for June 2022.
For vaccines, we have moved from a problem of supply to one of demand and distribution. But when it comes to getting tests and therapeutics, we are still fighting many of the same battles.
We need political will and financing to turn vaccines into vaccinations, tests into testing, and to provide communities with access to new treatments.
In our meeting today, we will hear the latest on work to improve vaccination coverage in the 34 countries that had the lowest coverage at the start of the year; some have made significant progress, but many still face substantial challenges.
We will also hear an update on access to new treatments for COVID-19, and the role of the ACT-Accelerator and its agencies in the transition to long-term COVID-19 disease control.
I look forward to hearing your ideas for how we together make the policy and financing commitments needed to end this pandemic, and to draw lessons from our experience with the ACT Accelerator to strengthen the global health architecture for emergency prevention, preparedness and response.
I now have the pleasure to hand over the moderation to Bruce, so that he can invite our three co-hosts today.
I thank you.