CAPE TOWN, Aug. 14 (Xinhua) -- South Africa on Friday commended the World Health Organization (WHO) for leading the world in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic during "this unprecedented time."
The WHO's stewardship "has ensured that we are able to take lessons from history and tell a better story of the way in which we have handled the coronavirus globally and locally," Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said.
He was speaking as a WHO 16-member team arrived in South Africa to help the country fight the pandemic. The team will be expanded to 43 members later.
"I pay tribute to the men and women of this organization and the leadership that has been shown during this unprecedented time," Mkhize said in a statement.
Mkhize said what he is most proud of is that the WHO has remained committed to all nations despite some being critical and even withdrawing sorely-needed funding and resources.
"It is unfortunately a sad fact of life that times like these bring out the best and the worst in us," he said.
As political volatility escalates around the world, it is very telling that during the time of most need, South Africa did not hesitate to call on the WHO to bolster its efforts and the Organization did not hesitate to respond to that call, said Mkhize.
Since the COVID-19 outbreak, South Africa has received continued support on many levels from the WHO, he said.
Through robust scientific engagement with this organization, South Africa has been able to make governmental undertakings to manage the COVID-19 outbreak, the minister said.
Although the pandemic has shown some abating signs in South Africa, "we are still the country with the fifth highest positive cases in the world," Mkhize said.
South Africa has recorded fewer daily confirmed cases of around 3,000 in recent days, compared with more than 10,000 a week ago.
As of Thursday, the country had 572,865 confirmed cases and 11,270 related deaths.
"With the threat of resurgence remaining very real, we would not want to repeat recent history witnessed in some countries and allow a second surge to wreak even further destruction," Mkhize said.
Apart from the impact on the health system that this virus has had, "we are still faced with the devastation it has caused in our social lives, our well-being, the economy and the environment," he said.
South Africa and many other nations have shown that it is possible, through multi-sectoral collaboration, to slow down the rate of infection and rebuild livelihoods after the initial devastation, said Mkhize.
"With this team buttressing our efforts we should further look for opportunities to emancipate the impoverished, the oppressed and the vulnerable using innovations that have emanated from the crisis," he said.
The minister urged all professionals, academics, frontline workers and members of society to embrace this intervention that the WHO is making.