Lockdowns are not sustainable

עם ד"ר הנס קלוגה, מנהל האזור האירופי בארגון הבריאות העולמי, בביקור במשרד הבריאות בת"א - פברואר 2022

(דברים בפני הכינוס האזורי של ארגון הבריאות העולמי).

Honorable chair, Director General, Regional Director, ministers,
ambassadors, and colleagues,

Safe travel systems must be put in place in order to diminish the
risk of variance spread. we need a comprehensive system of
testing, secure and verifiable vaccination certification and risk
assessment of new variants paired with early detection of high
infection areas.

In Israel we are reopening our economy on the basis of a Green
Pass system available to all on the basis of vaccination, recovery
or testing. Blunt tools such as lockdowns are not sustainable as we
rebuild our economies and learn to live alongside this terrible
pandemic. We are using this green pass system to enable
businesses to safely reopen and expand capacity, to enable
people to be together after far too much time apart and to begin to
heal the psychological wounds of the past year and a half.

Information knows no borders, I call for a regional approach to
combating anti-vax sentiments and tackling misinformation.
Often data or experts from one country are misrepresented in
another in order to undermine vaccine confidence – only through
international partnerships can we address this misinformation
before it has succeeded in undermining national vaccination
efforts. A regional task force would enable collaboration and data
sharing to combat misinformation and maintain vaccine

Flexible approaches to future health systems have been critical to maintaining continuity of the health system throughout the crisis. In Israel we expanded our health care options to include home care options. This system was critical to freeing up our hospitals and resources. It is absolutely critical to integrate digital tools to ensure remote access and enable better service while maximizing efficiency of health care workforces. Digital tools can also stretch scarce resources not only during emergencies but even in routine times.

COVID-19 has taught us of the need to adapt the way we worked
together cross-government and internationally. Information sharing
and coordination has been another key factor in effective policy
and implementation with a joint emergency management center
created in Israel to coordinate inter-ministerial efforts to combat the
pandemic and daily calls between experts internationally gathering
best practices and critical information to inform decision-making.

Lastly, we need to expand capacity for vaccine production and
distribution. This pandemic has shown that vaccine production
facilities are no simple good to be traded across borders but that
access to safe and timely vaccines is a critical factor of national
resilience. Nations should cooperate between themselves and with
industry in order to expand that capacity and maintain surge
capacity for times of need just as we may for other emergency