Minister of Health Abdulla Ameen, whilst participating at the 73rd World Health Assembly hosted by the World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday, noted that "viruses do not recognize borders. Together, as one world, we can overcome COVID-19".
Speaking at the two-day virtual assembly hosted at Geneva, Switzerland, Minister Ameen said the only way to control the pandemic is through concerted collaboration between regional and international actors.
"At the very outset, I wish to state that in this time of an unprecedented global public health crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, peoples, nations and above all, we ministers of health need to stay ever more focused, resolute and lead the efforts to overcome this calamity".
"For countries, as well as for WHO, this crisis has taught many lessons - that no country or the world could predict a crisis of this nature or magnitude, that the less obvious consequences or collateral can be as impactful".
The minister went on to further state that as countries exhaust all their resources and energy on COVID-19, there may be neglected health issues, health system needs as well as socio-economic fallout as a result.
He underscored that "the primacy of health cannot be undermined" in any aspect of life despite the crisis.
"When the world is faced with a global health crisis, it is all of humanity that suffers", said Minister Ameen.
Shedding light on the evolving impact of the pandemic on Maldives, he noted the deadlock on the tourism industry and fishery exports, on which the island nation's economy hinges, while manufacturing countries have placed embargoes and global movements of goods were halted.
"This affected us badly, impacting our containment efforts, as well medical and other supplies were becoming very hard to procure and import", he said.
"Here I wish to laud and appreciate regional leadership by WHO regional office and bilateral assistance from neighbouring countries, particularly that of India, and although not from our region, we also wish to note the assistance from China. Maldives-China has enjoyed decades of cooperation based on our commitment to One-China policy".
In his conclusion, Minister Ameen said that "we can contain this pandemic only through regional and international cooperation, and when all countries start working together and sharing critical information and sharing resources".
Led by the minister, the Maldives' delegation that joined the virtual meeting included the Director-General of Public Health Maimoona Aboobakuru, doctors of the Technical Advisory Group (TAG) at the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC), and representatives of the Permanent Mission of Maldives to the United Nations and other International Organizations in Geneva (PMGVA).
The total number of confirmed cases in Maldives is currently at 1,106, with 1,028 active cases. The country has reported four fatalities and a total of 74 recoveries till date. Maldives' capital Malé, one of the most densely populated cities in the world, has recorded a significant increase in COVID-19 since recording its first local transmission of the virus on April 15.
WHO has classified the spread of COVID-19 as a global pandemic. The new strain of novel coronavirus has infected over 4.89 million people and claimed over 320,189 lives around the world. However, out of those infected, 1.9 million people have recovered.