GENEVA, March 30 (CGTN) - The director general of the World Health Organization has called on the strongest economies to help low- to middle-income countries avoid becoming overwhelmed by the impact of COVID-19.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said wealthier countries had to increase production of essential health products and to ensure their fair distribution globally, based on need.

"Specific attention should be given to low- and middle-income countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America," said Ghebreyesus at a news conference in Geneva.

"In addition, WHO is working intensively with several partners to massively increase access to life-saving products including diagnostics, PPE [personal protective equipment], medical oxygen, ventilators and more."

Ghebreyesus added that it was essential for such items to be easily available to countries with smaller economies in Africa, Asia and Latin America, which may otherwise struggle to pay for them.

"Ensuring free movement of essential health products is vital for saving lives and curbing the social and economic impacts of the pandemic," he said.

To help developing countries manage the surge in COVID-19 cases while maintaining essential services, WHO has also published a practical manual on how to set up and manage temporary treatment centers for the coronavirus.

The manual outlines how to set up tents or repurpose buildings and covers structural design, infection prevention and control measures, and ventilation systems. It also details how to set up screening and community facilities to test the public and care for patients with mild symptoms.

"This is a life-saving instruction manual to deal with the surge of cases that some countries are facing right now. These facilities will also have longer-term benefits for health systems once the current crisis is over," said Ghebreyesus.