May 1, 2020 / 9:58 AM / a month ago

WHO ministerial to open on May 18; UNICEF seeks flights for vaccines

FILE PHOTO: A logo is pictured on the headquarters of the World Health Organization (WHO) ahead of a meeting of the Emergency Committee on the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in Geneva, Switzerland, January 30, 2020. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

GENEVA (Reuters) - The annual meeting of health ministers will take place virtually from May 18, with the focus on the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday.

The shortened agenda will include items essential for “governance continuity” such as election of its executive and a speech by WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, spokesman Tarik Jasarevic told a U.N. briefing in Geneva.

UNICEF called for unlocking a “massive backlog” in vaccine shipments amid a huge drop in commercial flights and limited availability of charters in the pandemic.

“UNICEF is appealing to governments, the private sector, the airline industry, and others, to free up freight space at affordable cost for these life-saving vaccines,” spokeswoman Marixie Mercado said.

Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Alison Williams

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