WHO boss praises Portugal “tremendous work” in response to Covid-19

Tedros Ghebreyesus awarded honoris causa doctorate from Coimbra University

The day after the European Council adopted a recommendation, pushed by the World Health Organisation, for a “permanent global platform to verify health certificates” from here on, the head of the organisation that many now accept made far too many demands on countries in the name of Covid-19 was in Portugal to receive an ‘honoris causa’ doctorate.

Involving what looked like a golden eiderdown around his shoulders, the award came from the Faculty of Medicine of Coimbra University in “recognition of a man and an authority in the scientific area who has distinguished himself by the important leadership role he assumed during the Covid-19 pandemic”.

This description is by no means consensual, as many countries have come to the conclusion that they misled their populations, whether wittingly or unwittingly. Measures imposed often made no sense (one particularly being that ‘the vaccinated posed no threat’ and by carrying a digital pass, they were somehow superior to the non-vaccinated).

But the general focus now is on ‘moving on’, not looking back at the misery wreaked in the name of tackling a ‘sanitary crisis’.

Nonetheless, the EU is actively encouraging Member States to join the WHO certificate network, which, say reports “would allow global access in the event of a future pandemic or health emergency, rather than being limited to the EU and other countries”.

“Until Member States integrate it, and for the period until the end of this year, we encourage them to remain on EU Gateway (the Union’s digital platform for certificate verification),” the EU Council statement continues.

“The WHO platform will integrate the technology that was used by the European Union to develop Covid-19 certificates”, said a statement yesterday, adding that “despite Brussels’ recommendation, it will be up to Member States to decide whether they want to be part of this global network”.

It may be this that has brought the WHO boss to Portugal. 

Observador online explains, “the regulation of Covid-19 digital certificates in the EU is set to expire on Friday (June 30)”.

But for the purposes of national headlines, Tedros Ghebreyesus was here to receive his honorary doctorate, and praise the “tremendous work” that Portugal did in having one of the highest vaccination rates in the world.

He considered exemplary the fact that Portugal has managed to vaccinate almost all its elderly, writes Lusa.

Throughout his speech at the ceremony in Coimbra today, the WHO director-general “pointed to the need to learn some lessons from the three years of the pandemic and warned that other threats could emerge.

“Make no mistake, the pandemic is far from the only threat we face. In this world of crises, we need to be better prepared”.

To this end, the new honorary doctor of Coimbra University advocated the need to negotiate an international agreement, with guidelines on how to prevent and respond to a pandemic.

It is this international agreement that has created a lot of controversy, as many warn it would see the WHO given much too much power – even the power to declare health emergencies. Remember, the organisation held on to the Covid pandemic well beyond the moment when most people had forgotten about it… They only official conceded it had ended … last month.

Today in Coimbra, Mr Ghebreyesus referred pointedly to his organisation’s desire for “an agreement between nations, to work together in a shared response to common threats”.

It is an agreement that “will make the world safer for future generations”, he said, adding that of course, countries will also need to invest more in their health systems.

“Strong and resilient health systems, composed of health professionals with decent salaries, good training and adequate working conditions are the best way to keep our societies healthy and protect them against the health emergencies of the future,” he said.

Says Lusa, with a degree in Biology from the University of Asmara, Eritrea, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has a Masters in Infectious Disease Immunology from the University of London and a PhD in Public Health from the University of Nottingham.

The biologist took over as Director-General of the World Health Organisation in 2017. Previously, in his country, Ethiopia, he was the minister of health (from 2005 to 2012) and minister of foreign affairs (from 2012 to 2016).

The Sunday Times has also done an in-depth exposé on Tedros Ghebreyesus and his rise to the top of the World Health Organisation which, says the paper, owes a great deal to China.

Source material from Lusa news agency’s report “WHO boss praises country’s tremendous work in response to Covid-19”

Portugal Resident