On 14 August Korean Ambassador, Ms Ji-ah Paik and WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus signed a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with WHO in support of the Organization’s COVID-19 response efforts in the African region. The new MoU follows a recent call between Dr Tedros and Mr Moon Jae-in, President of the Republic of Korea, during which WHO Director-General expressed the need for additional support to scale up the COVID-19 response in the African region. The MoU sets out an in-kind contribution of US$ 6 million in polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests / extraction kits to be delivered to 24 countries in Africa in the coming months. PCR has proven to be a critically important laboratory tool, providing results that are reliable and consistent.
“WHO is deeply grateful for this support, which is helping to increase the testing capacity in Africa,” said Dr Tedros. “This tremendous show of support is also strengthening the relationship between WHO and the Republic of Korea. The Republic of Korea is an important partner in global health.”
The support of the Republic of Korea follows the successful management of COVID-19 in the country and is now providing support to other countries. The Republic of Korea has a strong background in fighting infectious diseases, including the MERS CoV outbreak in 2015 and the recent outbreak of COVID-19. Leveraging this experience and demonstrating leadership, it has recently launched the Global Support Group for Infectious Disease Response (G4IDR) in Geneva.
Global health security and emergency response operations have long been a priority for the Republic of Korea. Dr JW Lee, WHO Director-General from 2003 to 2006, understood the critical need for international cooperation during public health emergencies, for trust, transparency and information sharing among all stakeholders in the global community. The first emergency operations centre, the Strategic Health Operations Centre (SHOC), was established thanks to the vision of Dr Lee. Today the SHOC is the hub of the Emergency Public Health Operations Centres Network, with more than 140 member institutions in over 80 countries around the world.
The Republic of Korea continues to demonstrate its commitment to global health, global health security and humanitarian response by supporting WHO emergency response programmes and funding mechanisms such as the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network, the Emergency Medical Teams Initiative, the Contingency Fund for Emergencies, as well as their own innovative financing mechanism, the Global Disease Eradication Fund.
“I thank the Republic of Korea, for leading a comprehensive approach to COVID-19 response and control,” said Dr Tedros. “We are very grateful for this in-kind contribution to support COVID-19 response efforts in the African region, and we look forward to our continued partnership together towards achieving better health for all people, everywhere.”