The WHO’s director-general is scheduled to speak at the virtual conference.


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Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the World Health Organization, will speak about the COVID-19 outbreak and the power of health tech during the Collision at Home conference next month, the event’s organizers announced on Wednesday.

The announcement follows Adhanom’s pledge on Tuesday to keep leading the fight against the coronavirus pandemic after US President Donald Trump suspended funding to the WHO and threatened to quit altogether. 

Trump lashed out at the WHO this week, calling it a “puppet of China,”and issuing an open letter to the body about its perceived failings in handling the crisis. In spite of the president’s threats, the WHO’s members passed a landmark resolution on Tuesday that will bring together countries around the world to fight COVID-19.

Paddy Cosgrave, founder of Collision at Home and its European sister event Web Summit, said in a statement that he was “humbled” to welcome Dr Adhanom, who he described as “one of the most important people in the world right now,” to the event. Health tech will form a major focus of this year’s conference, which will run virtually for the first time from June 23-25. It will also feature a number of other prominent medics including Patrice Harris, president of the American Medical Association.

“This global pandemic has created a warlike scenario where the health industry is in an arms race, except the arms are not weapons — they are medical advancements that will save lives, such as tracking systems for contact tracing, and super fast testing,” said Cosgrave. “I believe the tech advancements we’ll make over the next year and into 2021 will be incredible, and change the way healthcare is run forever.”

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