WHO director general closing speech to the 72nd World health assembly . Closing remarks
World Health Assembly
28 May 2019 Mr President,
Your Excellency, Dr Bounkong Syhavong,
I would like to begin by thanking you, Your Excellency, and your officers, for your leadership at this Assembly. It has been an honour to work with you.
I also want to thank the Chairs of Committees A and B – in Committee A, Dr Silvia Paula Valentim Lutucuta, and in Committee B, Mr Herbert Barnard – for your leadership and the way you have managed the agenda, managed the large number of speakers, and fostered a spirit of collaboration and partnership.
Thank you very much. Obrigado. Dank je wel.
It’s my great honour to now invite Your Excellency the President, and the Chairs of Committees A and B, to the stage to receive a token of our appreciation.
Excellencies, distinguished delegates, colleagues and friends,
Over the past 9 days, you have all listened to a lot of speeches, and I have made a lot of speeches too. So I will be brief!
I have three points to make.
First, we must all celebrate our achievements.
In the past 9 days, you have demonstrated that international cooperation is alive and well.
Working together, you approved the new programme budget.
You agreed on a common approach to antimicrobial resistance.
You adopted a new global strategy on health, environment and climate change, including a plan of action on climate change and health in Small Island Developing States.
You adopted the 11th Edition of the International Classification of Diseases – ICD-11 – the first completely digital edition of one of WHO’s most valuable, but least-known products.
You recognized patient safety as a global health priority.
You committed to invest in safe water, sanitation and hygiene services in health facilities.
You adopted a landmark agreement to enhance the transparency of pricing for medicines, vaccines and other health products.
You committed to invest in strong primary health care, to implement WHO guidelines on community health workers, and to lay the groundwork for the High-Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage.
I cannot emphasise strongly enough what a decisive moment for public health the High-Level Meeting could be. A strong declaration, with strong political support, could transform the lives of billions of people, in realizing what we have always advocated for – health for all.
I ask all of you to bring your Heads of State to the High-Level Meeting in New York in September. Their commitment is essential for ensuring we capitalize on this moment.
The joint meeting of ministers of health and ministers of finance, followed by the G20 Summit in Osaka will be another important moment on the road to New York.
In each of these areas you have also asked the Secretariat to take certain actions. I give you my word that we will fulfil our commitments.
Second, we must all commit to the work ahead of us.
I said at the beginning of this Assembly that we cannot think of resolutions and decisions as the ultimate outcome of our work.
The Assembly is ending, but our work is only just beginning.
We must all resolve to translate our work this week into policies, programmes and actions that deliver results.
We must be honest that we will all face many challenges in implementing the commitments we have made.
Some of our countries are deeply divided. Some are in severe economic crisis. Some are still suffering from years of conflict.
In some countries, there is an alarming increase in attacks on health workers and health facilities.
Last Thursday, two health workers died and three were injured when two clearly-marked ambulances were struck in Libya.
And since we remembered Dr Richard’s death last Monday, six attacks on Ebola responders were documented in DRC, including an attack on an infection prevention team on Saturday in which one responder was killed.
These attacks demonstrate that the ongoing Ebola outbreak is more than a health crisis. Ending it takes a coordinated and strengthened effort across the UN system – all stakeholders – with strong leadership from the government. We’re pleased that that is now happening, and we are committed to working with the government of DRC and all partners to end this outbreak as soon as possible.
We also face challenges in our continuing mission to transform WHO and make it more modern, responsive, and effective; an organization for today and an organization for tomorrow.
We have a lot of hard work ahead of us to implement the changes we have announced, and to make them work.
Our new science division will enable to us to stay ahead of the curve on the latest developments in science and medicine, and to provide up-to-date guidance on digital health, investing in our core business: norms and standards.
The future of health is digital, and we are committed to giving Member States the support they need to maximize the opportunities of digital technologies, while avoiding the pitfalls with appropriate regulation.
Our new division of healthy populations will support countries to invest in health promotion, addressing the determinants of health through a health-in-all-policies approach.
I’m pleased to announce that we are establishing a special programme on primary health care to support countries in strengthening the foundations of their health systems and of universal health coverage.
We’re also changing the way we work, by establishing agile teams to break the siloes and work on cross-cutting issues like antimicrobial resistance.
And we’re establishing the WHO Academy, to transform the training of WHO staff and public health professionals worldwide.
We also face challenges in securing the financial sustainability of WHO, and in increasing the proportion of more flexible and more predictable funding.
These are just some of the changes we’re making.
Re-orienting an organization with 8,000 people, 6 regions and 194 Member States is no easy task.
But we are committed to the path we are on.
And the only way to address any of these challenges we face is the same way we have addressed our work this week – together. The rule of the game is: together.
My third point is, we must all keep ourselves accountable.
If we are truly to make progress towards the “triple billion” targets and the Sustainable Development Goals, we must all commit to regular accountability – both Member States, and the Secretariat. We must all commit to a regular “check-up”.
Today I am asking that in a year’s time, all Member States return to Geneva ready to report on the steps they have taken, and the progress they have made, on primary health care and universal health coverage. Because this is the central agenda, and that’s why we’re saying all roads should lead to universal health coverage.
I will work with the Regional Directors to create an opportunity to do that at next year’s Assembly. There are some innovative ideas that are already proposed by the Africa Group.
Likewise, we in the Secretariat will also report on the progress we have made on transformation, and the commitments we have made at this Assembly.
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
Celebrate our achievements.
Commit to the work ahead of us.
Keep ourselves accountable.
These are my three messages.
Whenever we feel disheartened, whenever progress seems too slow, whenever it seems the challenges are too large, we must remind ourselves of what we’re working for.
Our vision is a world in which people do not suffer and die simply because they are poor.
Our vision is a world in which the healthy choice is the easy choice.
Our vision is a world in which polio is eradicated; neglected tropical diseases are no longer neglected; the epidemics of TB, HIV and malaria are ended; maternal and child mortality are reduced; primary health care is strengthened, and the tobacco industry goes out of business because no one wants its products.
That’s the vision for which we’re working.
And that’s the vision that we can only achieve together.
Thank you. It’s been nine days of rollercoaster. I learned a lot and I will keep learning. Thank you so much for your guidance and support.
The 72nd annual World Health Assembly ended today in Geneva. Over the past 9 days, Member States adopted a new global strategy
on health, environment and climate change and committed to invest in safe water, sanitation and hygiene services in health facilities. Countries adopted a landmark agreement to enhance the transparency of pricing for medicines, vaccines and other health
products. The new WHO programme budget was approved and a common approach to antimicrobial resistance was agreed.
Patient safety was recognized as a global health priority and the 11th Edition of the International Classification
of Diseases was adopted. Countries agreed three resolutions on universal health coverage with a focus on primary healthcare, the role of community health workers and the High-Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage in New York in September 2019.
“I cannot emphasise strongly enough what a decisive moment for public health the
High-Level Meeting could be. A strong declaration, with strong political support, could transform the lives of billions of people, in realizing what we have always advocated for – health for all,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO
Director-General, at the closing speech for the World Health Assembly 72.
International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD-11)
Member states agreed today to adopt the eleventh revision of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related
Health Problems (ICD-11), to come into effect on 1 January 2022.
ICD is the foundation for the identification of health trends and statistics globally, and the international standard for reporting diseases and health conditions. It
is the diagnostic classification standard for all clinical and research purposes. ICD defines the universe of diseases, disorders, injuries and other related health conditions.
The ICD also captures factors influencing health, or external
causes of mortality and morbidity, providing an holistic look at every aspect of life that can affect health.
Understanding what makes people sick, and what eventually kills them, is at the core of mapping disease trends and epidemics,
deciding how to programme health services, allocate healthcare spending, and invest in improving therapies and prevention. ICD-11 is now fit for many uses, including clinical recording, primary care, patient safety, antimicrobial resistance, resource allocation,
reimbursement, casemix, in addition to mortality and morbidity statistics.
ICD-11 has been updated for the 21st century and reflects critical advances in science and medicine. It can be well integrated with electronic health applications
and information systems. This new version is fully electronic, allows more detail to be recorded and is significantly easier to use and to implement, which will lead to fewer mistakes and lower costs, and make the tool much more accessible, particularly for
Member States noted that ICD-11 has been produced in a transparent and collaborative manner.
Member States meeting at the World Health Assembly committed
to recognize patient safety as a key health priority, and to take concerted action to reduce patient harm in healthcare settings.
The World Health Assembly also endorsed the establishment of an annual World Patient Safety Day on 17
September and called on WHO to provide technical support to countries to build national capacities to assess, measure and improve patient safety.
The Assembly requested WHO to formulate a global patient safety action plan in consultation
with countries and all relevant stakeholders, to improve and ensure patient safety globally.
Patient harm due to adverse events is one of the leading causes of death and disability globally. An estimated 134 million adverse events occur
annually due to unsafe care in hospitals in low- and middle-income countries, contributing to 2.6 million deaths, while 1 in 10 patients is estimated to be harmed while receiving hospital care in high-income countries.
safety as central to healthcare delivery and the provision of universal health coverage, WHO and the United Kingdom have jointly launched the ‘Global Patient Safety Collaborative’. The aim of this initiative is to secure and scale up global action
on patient safety, and collaborate closely with low- and middle-income countries to reduce avoidable patient harm and improve safety of their national health care systems.
Emergency and trauma care
agreed to pave the way for better and faster services for time-sensitive health conditions, including injuries, heart attacks, mental health conditions, infections or pregnancy complications.
A functional emergency care system is essential
to universal health coverage, and investing in frontline care saves lives, increases impact and reduces costs in other parts of the health system.
Member States stressed that timeliness is an essential component of quality care, and
that millions of deaths and long-term disabilities could be prevented if emergency care services exist and patients reach them in time.
Steps agreed to strengthen countries’ emergency care include developing policies for sustainable
funding, governance and universal access to emergency care for all, and integrating emergency care into health delivery and training strategies at all levels. Member States also embraced the use of the WHO emergency care system assessment to identify gaps
and context-relevant priorities.
Water, sanitation and hygiene
Member States agreed a new resolution to improve safe water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services in health facilities around the world. Noting
that this is a critical measure for preventing the spread of infections, reducing maternal and newborn deaths and achieving universal health coverage, the resolution urges Member States to prioritize WASH for safer health care worldwide.
1 in 4 healthcare facilities lacks basic water services and 1 in 5 has no sanitation services - affecting 2 billion and 1.5 billion people respectively. Furthermore, many have no hand hygiene facilities and lack systems for safe segregation and disposal of
waste. An estimated 15% of patients globally develop one or more infections during a hospital stay, with the greatest risk in low-income countries.
In light of this, the resolution asks Member States to develop national roadmaps, establish
and implement standards, and invest in systems to support sustainable WASH services. It also requests WHO to provide leadership, to help mobilize resources for investment, to report on global progress, and in emergencies, to help coordinate and implement WASH
and infection prevention and control in healthcare.
72nd WHA, 24th May 2019 update .
World Health Assembly update 24 May 2019
Health, environment and climate change Member States agreed a new global
strategy on health, environment and climate change: the transformation needed to improve lives and well-being sustainably through healthy environments. The strategy provides a vision and way forward on how the world and its health community need to respond
to environmental health risks and challenges until 2030.
Risks include environmental physical, chemical, biological and work-related factors. They also agreed a plan of action on climate change and health in small
island developing States. The plan has four strategic lines of action: empowerment (supporting health leadership in small island developing States); evidence (building the business case for investment); implementation (preparedness for climate risks, adaptation
and health-promoting mitigation policies); resources (facilitating access to climate and health finance).
Noncommunicable diseases Member States agreed a decision to accelerate
and scale up action to prevent and treat noncommunicable diseases, primarily cancer, diabetes, and heart and lung diseases, and to meet global targets to reduce the number of people dying too young from these diseases. NCDs are
the leading cause of premature death: WHO estimates that 15.2 million people died in 2016, aged between 30 and 70 years, from one of these conditions. The Health Assembly heard that for the first time since
the initial United Nations General Assembly High-level Meeting on NCDs in 2011, there are promising signs that health outcomes are improving thanks to action on NCDs. These include a downward trend in prevalence of tobacco smoking, heavy episodic
drinking of alcoholic beverages and raised blood pressure. Treatment interventions, including for hypertension, have also progressed through strengthening primary health care services. There has also been an increase
in the number of countries with national standards for managing major NCDs through a primary care approach. Later this year, WHO will publish a technical note setting out indicators for countries to annually
measure progress on the commitments they made at the UN General Assembly to address NCDs and include in reports to the United Nations Secretary General. World Chagas Day and Year of the
Nurse and Midwife Today Member States also agreed to establish World Chagas Day, to be celebrated each year on 14 April. Chagas, a neglected tropical disease, currently affects between 6 and 7 million
people, mostly in Latin America. They also declared 2020 the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife.
Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Framework
Further to requests made by the World Health Assembly
in 2017 and 2018, today delegates considered the final text of WHO’s analysis of the issues raised by the 2016 PIP Framework Review Group’s recommendations concerning seasonal influenza and genetic sequence data. The Health Assembly also considered
the information provided by the Secretariat regarding implementation of the recommendations contained in the Director-General’s report on progress to implement decision WHA70(10).
Delegates adopted a decision to request WHO, inter
alia, to work with the Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System (GISRS) and other partners to improve influenza virus sharing, and to prepare a report with Member States and stakeholders on influenza virus sharing and public health in the context
of legislation and regulatory measures including those implementing the Nagoya Protocol.
Furthermore, the Health Assembly requested more information on the prototype search engine previously developed and asked WHO to explore possible
next steps in raising awareness of the PIP Framework among databases, data users and data providers.
The decision also agreed to amend a footnote relating to SMTA2 (Standard Material Transfer Agreement 2) in the PIP Framework. This
will help ensure that the integrity of the PIP Framework access and benefit-sharing system continues to be well maintained.
The PIP Framework is an international normative instrument adopted by the Health Assembly in 2011 that brings
together WHO, Member States, industry, and other relevant stakeholders to implement a global approach to pandemic influenza preparedness and response. The objective of the PIP Framework is to ensure a fair, transparent, equitable, efficient and effective system
for, on an equal footing, the sharing of influenza viruses with human pandemic potential and access to vaccines and other benefits.
The general theme of this year’s World Health Assembly (WHA) is "Universal health coverage: leaving no-one behind.
GENEVA ¦15 May 2019– The 72nd annual World Health Assembly will take place from 20 to 28 May 2019 at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. It will be attended by nearly 4000
delegates from WHO’s 194 Member States and partner organizations. The Health Assembly is WHO’s highest decision-making body, setting out the Organization’s policy and approving its budget.
The general theme of this
year’s World Health Assembly (WHA) is "Universal health coverage: leaving no-one behind. The Assembly will be webcast live, including the plenary sessions and the deliberations in Committees A and B. The proceedings can be followed
at:www.who.int/wha72. WHO will issue daily press releases, detailing decisions taken
at the Health Assembly and posted.
An updated WHA Daily Journal will be posted on the WHO website every morning from 20 May. A preliminary Journal is available at:
http://apps.who.int/gb/ebwha/pdf_files/WHA72/A72_JourP-en.pdf Technical Briefings The following technical briefings will take place during the Seventy-Second World Health Assembly. Details are provided on page 7: http://apps.who.int/gb/ebwha/pdf_files/WHA72/A72_JourP-en.pdf Side events are planned for every lunch period and during the evenings.
Some evening events will be held at the Palais des Nations but others will be held offsite The provisional list of side events can be found in the preliminary Journal. So far, about 25 side events have been planned by Member States and other participants at
the WHO Assembly. Details are provided on page 8-10 http://apps.who.int/gb/ebwha/pdf_files/WHA72/A72_JourP-en.pdf Technical briefings as well as most of the the side events are open. Journalists are welcome to
Sunday 19 May 2019: Walk the Talk: The Health for All Challenge 2019 To kick off the work of the Assembly, WHO is organizing a second Walk the Talk: The
Health for All Challenge 2019, starting 9.30am at Place des Nations on 19 May. The First Lady of Kenya, H.E. Mrs Margaret Kenyatta, will be the special guest at this event and she will be joined by other champions of sports and health.
Monday 20 May 2019 The Health Assembly will open with a high-level segment, which will include an address by WHO Director General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, at
around 12 noon. The entire event will be webcast. A number of Health Leader Awards will be announced during the morning and a photo opportunity will be held outside the Salle des Assemblées at the end of the high-level segment.
Media accreditation for the World Health Assembly Journalists wishing to attend and cover the World Health Assembly (WHA) are accredited by the United Nations Information Service (UNIS) at the
Palais des Nations in Geneva. The online registration system for WHA can be accessed here: https://reg.unog.ch/event/25899/
For questions regarding the online registration: Mr François Richer : UN Information Service : (UNIS), Palais des Nations, CH-1211 Geneva 10. Tel: +41 22 917 43 59,
Side Effects of Medicare-for-All [UNIVERSAL HEALTH COVERAGE ?]
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The House Budget Committee will hold a hearing next week on a recent Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report detailing the risks of imposing a one-size-fits-all, government-run health care system, as Democrats’ multi-trillion-dollar Medicare-for-All proposal would do.
While the CBO report did not identify a price tag, as other independent analyses have done,
it did warn that one-size-fits-all health careproposals could have serious side effects. For example, as news outlets have reported, Medicare-for-All is expected to:
“‘Substantially’ increase government health care spending.” – Politico Pro
“Overtax hospitals and clinicians while imposing hefty
new costs.” – Modern Healthcare
“Entail new taxes, including income taxes,
payroll taxes, or consumption taxes.” – Associated Press
“Produce … higher government spending
and taxes — and potentially longer waits for some treatments and technologies.” – Washington Post
“Largely replace private
and employer insurance coverage with a single government program for everyone.” – Wall Street Journal
As the side effects become clearer, editorial boards are sounding alarm bells:
“What stands out is the utter impracticality of getting from where things stand today to what [Democrats propose].” – USA Today
“Honest private estimates suggest [paying for Medicare-for-All] would take at least a doubling of individual and corporate taxes
… cutting payments to doctors and restricting care.” – Wall Street Journal
“It’s good to follow the money trail
of ‘Medicare for all,’ … because it leads us to the true cost, which is the loss of freedom.” – Washington Examiner
“It could also discourage talented people
from entering the medical profession and result in long wait times for care.” – Washington Post
“There are a couple of major problems …
The first problem is money.” – Chicago Tribune
Director of the Worlosd health organization address to the 72nd World Health Assembly .
Dr Bounkong Sihavong, President of the World Health Assembly,
Your Excellency Margaret Kenyatta, the First Lady of Kenya,
Your Excellency Madame Antoinette Sassou Nguesso,
Excellencies Heads of Delegation,
For 71 years, the world has come together in Geneva to discuss how we can create a healthier, safer, fairer world.
This year is no exception.
Over the course of the next 9 days, we will all do a lot of talking – maybe too much talking!
But we must also listen.
We must listen to each other.
We must listen to the voices
of young people like Natasha, who will inherit the world we leave them.
And we must listen to the voices of those who are not here. Those who have no voice. Those who have been left behind. It is them we are here to serve.
Today, I want to describe the achievements of the past year, according to each of the “triple billion” targets in the General Programme of Work, through the stories of some of those people.
Of course, to summarize all of WHO’s
achievements from the past year is an impossible task.
The WHO Results Report provides a much more detailed and easy-to-read account of the impact we have delivered, with the resources entrusted to us.
Needless to say,
2018 was an incredible year.
First, the world has made great progress towards universal health coverage.
Last year, I mentioned Kenya’s ambitious plans to implement a new UHC scheme, with support from WHO.
In December, I had the honour of being with President Kenyatta for the launch of that programme in Kisumu.
It’s already producing results.
This is Immaculate Otene, a 33-year-old mother of four.
Immaculate is unemployed, and her husband often goes without work.
But thanks to Kenya’s new UHC plan, designed with support from WHO, her family can now access free health services.
She says, “Just
knowing we can access treatment anytime has removed the worry and anxiety that my husband and I used to have.
“My whole family is now registered, and I can take any one of my four children to hospital without hesitation.”
This is Bolu Rambhav Omble, a 65-year-old labourer from Pune, in India.
About 10 years ago, Bolu began to complain of pain and swelling in his knees.
It turned out he needed a knee replacement that would cost three times
more than his entire family earns in a year.
Then Bolu discovered that he was eligible for free surgery under India’s new Ayushman Bharat insurance programme, which was launched last year, with support from WHO.
A week later, Bolu had the operation and began physiotherapy.
He’s now back on his feet and back to work.
We could tell similar stories from South Africa, which passed a National Health Insurance bill last year.
Or the Philippines, where the Universal Health Care Act was signed into law in February this year.
Or Egypt, which last year passed a new Universal Health Insurance Law, to be funded in part by a new tax on tobacco.
Or El Salvador, which just a month ago passed a new law to integrate health services, introduce innovative health financing, increase access to primary health care and improve regulation of the medicines agency.
This is Pantelis Leousis, an 80-year-old retired musician.
He has had cancer twice, with regular visits to public hospitals and private doctors.
But thanks to Greece’s health system reforms, he now has a primary
health care clinic just 10 minutes from his house, where he pays nothing for care.
With support from WHO, Greece is expanding its network of primary health care clinics, with an emphasis on services for health promotion and prevention.
The Declaration of Astana, endorsed by all 194 Member States last year, was a vital affirmation that there will be no UHC without PHC.
Primary health care is where the battle for human health is won and lost.
Strong primary health care is the front line in defending the right to health, including sexual and reproductive rights.
It’s through strong primary health care that countries can prevent, detect and treat noncommunicable diseases.
It’s through strong primary health care that outbreaks can be detected and stopped before they become epidemics.
And it’s through strong primary health care that we can protect children and fight the global surge
in vaccine-preventable diseases like measles.
That’s why primary health care is at the heart of the Immunization Agenda 2030, our new strategic initiative, which we are designing with you, to maximize the power of vaccines.
Because we cannot achieve health for all without vaccines for all.
Of course, strong primary health care depends on having a strong health workforce, working in teams. Doctors, nurses, midwives, lab technicians, community health workers
– they all have a role to play. But the world is currently facing a shortfall of 18 million health workers to achieve and sustain universal health coverage by 2030.
It is imperative that all countries invest in jobs to close
that gap and deliver health for all.
In addition to WHO’s work supporting stronger health systems, we have also contributed to significant progress against many of the world’s leading causes of death and disease.
Just last month, we celebrated a historic milestone in the fight against one of the world’s most ancient diseases, with the launch of the world’s first malaria vaccine in Malawi and Ghana, which is being rolled out based on recommendations from
WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization.
This is Gilimbeta Taziona and her 5-month-old daughter Lusitana.
Last month, at the Mitundu Community Hospital in Malawi, Lusitana became the first child
in the world to be vaccinated outside a clinical trial with the world’s first malaria vaccine.
But even as we introduce new tools, we are also working to make better use of the tools we have, through the “High Burden, High Impact”
initiative, to reinvigorate progress against malaria.
Last year, Uzbekistan and Paraguay were certified as being malaria free, and at this Assembly, Argentina and Algeria will join them.
Congratulations to both countries.
Last year, we also launched a new initiative to eliminate cervical cancer, which kills more than 300,000 women every
This is Laura Brennan, a 26-year-old Irish woman, who lost her battle with cervical cancer in March of this year.
In the last 18 months of her life, Laura became a vocal advocate for HPV vaccination, and worked
with the WHO European Region to promote it.
We have now developed a draft global strategy for elimination, and we have supported the introduction of HPV vaccination in 13 countries, and screening and treatment in 10 countries.
We know how important WHO’s normative work is to Member States.
In the past year, we have produced hundreds of new normative products that are being integrated into health systems all over the world, to protect and promote health.
We released the 11th Edition of the International Classification of Diseases, ready for adoption at this Assembly.
We prequalified 200 products, including the first heat-stable rotavirus vaccine.
the first Essential Diagnostics List.
The Special Programme on Human Reproduction published research showing that a new formulation of a drug to prevent life-threatening bleeding after childbirth is as safe and effective as the gold standard.
The first UN High-Level Meeting on Tuberculosis saw unprecedented political commitment from around the world to end the world’s deadliest infectious disease.
As part of our commitment to reducing the global burden of
maternal and infant mortality, we developed a new Framework for Action on Quality Midwifery Education.
We launched a new strategy on snakebite envenoming,
the Global Status Report on Road Safety,
the Global Action Plan on
the first guidelines on dementia and cognitive decline,
and our first guidelines on digital health, to name but a few.
Together with our partners, we’re also stepping up the fight against antimicrobial
resistance, one of the most urgent health threats of our time.
Just three weeks ago, we delivered the report of the Interagency Coordination Group on Antimicrobial Resistance to the United Nations Secretary-General.
We are now fully
committed to implementing the recommendations of that report with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the World Organisation of Animal Health and other agencies.
Let me now mention a few highlights from our efforts
over the past year to keep the world safe.
Last year, WHO responded to 481 emergencies and potential emergencies in 141 countries.
On this platform a year ago, I described my recent visit to the Democratic Republic of
the Congo, where WHO was responding to an Ebola outbreak in the western province of Equateur.
That outbreak was controlled in just 3 months.
But shortly after it ended, another outbreak started, this time in the eastern part of DRC.
And as you know, it’s still going.
I would like to commend my brother Dr Oly Ilunga, the Minister of Health of DRC, and the government for their leadership and commitment to ending this outbreak.
We can be proud of the
fact that so far, the outbreak has not spread outside two provinces in DRC.
But I emphasise “so far”. The risk of spread remains very high.
Because this outbreak is one of the most complex health emergencies any of us have
We are fighting one of the world’s most dangerous viruses in one of the world’s most dangerous areas.
We are fighting with even better tools than we used to extinguish the Equateur outbreak in three months.
So far we have vaccinated more than 120,000 people.
And we now have evidence that the vaccine is more than 97% effective in preventing Ebola.
We also have 4 experimental treatments that we’ve used to treat 800 patients.
But we are not just fighting a virus.
We’re fighting insecurity.
We’re fighting violence.
We’re fighting misinformation.
We’re fighting mistrust.
And we’re fighting
the politicization of an outbreak.
Since January, there have been dozens of attacks on health facilities in North Kivu.
Every attack disrupts our operations.
Every attack makes it harder to reach communities.
Every attack gives the virus an advantage, and a disadvantage to the responders.
Every life lost is a tragedy.
But every life saved is a triumph.
This is Faustin Kalivanda, an Ebola survivor from Beni.
lost his wife and his five-year-old daughter Ester to Ebola.
Despite this tragedy, Kalivanda believes that as a survivor he has a duty to protect others.
He now works at the Ebola treatment centre as a nurse assistant.
are the stories of hope that keep us going.
When I visited DRC following Dr Richard Valery’s death, I discovered that our staff were shocked and shaken, but undeterred.
They told me, “We’re here to save lives. We will
not be intimidated by violence. We will finish the job.”
I have also met personally with His Excellency the President of DRC and opposition leaders to urge a bipartisan approach to ending this outbreak.
Because Ebola does not take
sides. It’s the enemy of everybody.
Unless we unite to end this outbreak, we run the very real risk that it will become more widespread, more expensive and more aggressive.
I have also briefed the Security Council twice on the
outbreak. The Secretary-General and I have agreed on a further strengthening of the response across the entire UN system.
But of course, Ebola is not the only emergency to which we are responding.
Last year we also responded to the
largest recorded cholera outbreak, in Yemen, diphtheria in Cox’s Bazaar, the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Syria and many others that didn’t make the headlines.
And together with our partners in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative,
we have launched a new strategy to address the most difficult remaining areas in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Earlier this year I came across a video of a man called Irfanullah, wading through snow to deliver polio vaccines in Pakistan.
With the dedication and commitment of people like him, I have no doubt we will succeed in making polio history.
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, we have a moral duty to respond urgently and effectively to outbreaks and other emergencies.
But it makes no sense either morally or economically to continue spending money responding to emergencies, without investing in preventing them.
That’s why we have set up a new division of emergency preparedness, in addition to our
existing work on emergency response.
We will save more lives and more money if we support countries to put in place the measures to prepare for and prevent emergencies, instead of waiting for them to happen.
The third of our “triple
billion” targets is to see 1 billion people enjoying better health and well-being.
Let me spend a few moments talking about our achievements in this area.
In October last year, we hosted the first Global Conference
on Air Pollution and Health.
Every year, 9 million people are killed by the air they breathe.
This installation simulated what it’s like to breathe the air in several cities around the world.
I only spent five minutes
inside, and that was hard enough. Millions of people spend a lifetime breathing air that is killing them.
At the end of the conference, leaders from national and city governments made more than 90 voluntary commitments, and set an aspirational
goal to reduce the number of deaths from air pollution by two-thirds by 2030.
We are working hard to secure many more ambitious health commitments of this kind at the Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit in September.
We have also completed the first phase of our new initiative on climate change and health in Small Island Developing States.
As you know, climate change affects the whole world, but Small Island States are disproportionately affected.
We’ve now completed three rounds of consultations with Ministers of Health and Environment from the Pacific, in Fiji, with Indian Ocean states in Mauritius, and with Caribbean countries in Grenada.
We now have a much clearer idea of what
the countries need and are moving into implementation.
Last year was also an important year in the fight against tobacco.
The Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products came into force, further strengthening the world’s
only public health treaty.
This gives us a powerful new tool in the fight against the evil of big tobacco.
But the more countries that ratify it, the more powerful it will be.
If your country has not yet ratified the protocol,
I urge you to do it as soon as possible.
In response to our call to eliminate industrial trans-fat from the global food supply, 28 countries have now introduced limits or bans, covering one-third of the world’s population.
International Food and Beverage Alliance, which represents some of the world’s largest food-producing companies, has officially committed to adhere to WHO’s trans fat elimination target by 2023.
The High-Level Commission on Noncommunicable
Diseases delivered its report, and most of its recommendations were included as commitments in the political declaration at the UN High-Level Meeting on NCDs last year.
We are now working with countries to turn those commitments into action.
Several countries have also introduced new measures to address risk factors for NCDs, including taxes on sugary drinks.
So as you can see, it has been an extremely productive 12 months.
I have only just skimmed the surface
of everything WHO has accomplished.
Once again, I commend the Results Report to you for a more in-depth summary of our achievements.
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
I said last year that one of the
keys to WHO’s success was a transformed WHO.
In March we announced some of the most wide-ranging reforms in WHO’s history.
There are five components to our transformation: A new strategy; new processes; a new
operating model; a new culture; and a new approach to partnerships.
At this Assembly last year, you approved the new General Programme of Work, with its emphasis on outcomes and impact, which is a major shift.
we are asking you to approve the programme budget that supports that plan, and we are now developing an operational plan to execute the GPW.
Our new processes are based on best practices to modernize the organization, cut bureaucracy and
make us more responsive. We have already started implementing some of these new processes.
Our new operating model is designed to help us operate as one WHO, horizontally and vertically aligned, with clarity of roles and responsibilities
at all three levels, with agile teams to break the siloes and deliver results.
But the best strategy, the best management tools, the best processes and the best operating model won’t deliver results unless we have the right culture
and mindset. Our new Values Charter, launched last month, is one important way we’re changing that.
And our new approach to partnerships is helping us move from a risk-averse organization to one that manages risks. This is not just
a slogan, it’s already changing. Already we are engaging much more proactively with civil society organizations and the private sector.
But all of these changes are about one thing: impact.
Our transformation is
about delivering results for the people we serve, and value for money for those who entrust resources to us.
It’s about investing in science and the world-class technical expertise for which we are known.
about strengthening our country offices to deliver results where it matters most.
It’s about investing in a talented, motivated and diverse workforce, and empowering them to excel.
It’s about being the trusted health leader
that you expect us to be.
And it’s about strong partnerships that leverage the comparative advantages of our partners.
One way we’re doing that is by expanding our network of global health champions.
am also pleased to announce that we have appointed Her Excellency former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, of Liberia, as Goodwill Ambassador for Health Workforce.
We have also appointed Mr Alisson Becker, goalkeeper for Brazil and Liverpool,
together with his wife Dr Natália Loewe Becker, as Goodwill Ambassadors for Health Promotion.
And we have appointed Ms Cynthia Germanotta, who with her daughter, Lady Gaga, is the founder of the Born This Way Foundation, as Goodwill
Ambassador for Mental Health.
I’m delighted that Cynthia is with us today.
I welcome each of our new Goodwill Ambassadors.
I look forward to working with each of them in the coming years.
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
The next 12 months will be decisive for global health.
We have all the ingredients for success.
But I believe there are three priorities that must guide
our discussions this week and throughout the next year.
First, health is about political leadership.
The G7 meeting in Biarritz and the G20 in Osaka will be important moments to reaffirm the place of health on the international
And in September, the world will come together in New York for the first High-Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage.
I am asking each of you to do everything possible to ensure that your Head of State or Head
of Government attends this historic event, and makes concrete commitments to universal health coverage.
Second, health is about partnership.
The Global Action Plan on Healthy Lives and Well-Being for All is a unique opportunity
to leverage the collective power of the global health architecture to deliver the health-related targets in the Sustainable Development Goals.
We are now working with our partners to finalize the Action Plan, which we will be presented at
the General Assembly in New York.
We ask that every country endorse the plan.
But we also need your partnership as our Member States.
This week, we are asking you to approve an ambitious budget.
But we are also asking you to support that budget with more flexible and predictable funding.
The first WHO Partners Forum in Sweden last month was an excellent step in that direction. Tack så mycket, Sweden.
Last year we also launched WHO’s first Investment Case, and we are working on fresh approaches to resource mobilization.
To broaden our donor base, I am also pleased to announce that the WHO Foundation will be established this year,
which will enable us to generate funding from previously untapped sources.
But finally, health is about people.
This week you will make resolutions and decisions on community health workers, antimicrobial resistance, patient
safety, pandemic influenza and much more.
But the ultimate outcome of our work this week is not resolutions and decisions.
We all have a duty to make sure the decisions we make this week take root in our countries and
This week, I ask you to remember the people, from your family and your country, and from every family and every country, who will be affected by the resolutions you pass and the decisions you make.
the reason we’re here.
The people of the world are looking to us to deliver results.
And the people of the world will hold us accountable for those results, as Natasha said.