WHO programme CEO praises Georgia's public health tradition, pandemic response

WHO Health Emergencies Programme director Michael Ryan answered questions by reporters on Wednesday. Photo via mercopress.com.

Agenda.ge, 14 May 2020 - 15:09, Tbilisi,Georgia

World Health Organisation programme director Michael Ryan gave high marks to Georgia's ongoing response to the coronavirus outbreak and noted the country's "very strong and proud tradition" in public health as an element in its success in a media briefing on Wednesday.

Ryan, Executive Director for the WHO Health Emergencies Programme, was answering questions by reporters from around the world in the press event held by the organisation. He was flanked by WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and Maria Van Kerkhove, technical lead for the   emergencies programme.

The programme director's praise for Georgia came in response to a question by Georgian-based ipress.ge news agency reporter that described social, economic and cultural complications for Georgia in implementing social distancing considering practices of residence with extended families.

Georgia has been in a very flat curve over the last couple of weeks and has kept cases down to under 650, and has a doubling time of cases of weeks now, so I think there's only been a six percent increase in cases in last week, so Georgia itself is doing well" - WHO programme director Michael Ryan


The Georgian news agency's reporter asked the WHO officials whether the international body was considering issuing country-specific guidelines for pandemic measures in the future considering individual circumstances for states.

I think Georgia also has very strong and proud tradition in public health and science, and I'm sure, given the way the data looks, that Georgia will pull through" - WHO programme director Michael Ryan

In his reply, Ryan detailed the need and mandate for the WHO to issue global guidelines that could then be adapted to national level, before also touching on Georgia's example.

The health official said the country was "doing well" in its COVID-19 response, citing recent figures tracking the pandemic, and expressed his respect for tradition of public health and science in the country.

The latter was based on Ryan's personal experience in Georgia, where he said he was "proud to serve on epidemic response in Georgia many years ago", leading him to an understanding of the "special social and cultural context" of the country.