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Strengthen Independence and Financing of World Health Organization: António Guterres

here is the complete text of recent UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ video message to World Health Assembly.

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Following is the text of UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ video message to the World Health Assembly, held in Geneva:

Dr. Tedros [Adhanom Ghebreyesus], excellencies, friends, 75 years ago, in the earliest days of the United Nations, countries came together and affirmed some fundamental truths:  That peace depends on health; that disease in one nation endangers all; and that achieving the greatest possible health for everyone, everywhere relies on cooperation.

In the decades since the birth of the World Health Organization (WHO), human health has advanced dramatically:  Global life expectancy — up over 50 per cent; infant mortality — down 60 per cent in 30 years; smallpox — eradicated; and polio on the verge of extinction.  But progress is in peril.

War and conflict threaten millions.  The health of billions is endangered by the climate crisis.  And the COVID-19 pandemic has stalled, and even reversed, progress in public health.  We risk further eroding the enormous gains made over the past decades, and backsliding on the Sustainable Development Goals.  But this is not inevitable.

We can return to the path of progress.  We can realize our ambitions for health and well-being for all. But only if the world works together.  If we cooperate despite the tensions straining relations between nations.

My report, Our Common Agenda, calls for improved protection of global public goods, including health.  That means strengthening the independence, authority and financing of the World Health Organization, which stands at the heart of our international effort.  The WHO has a key coordinating role to play when pandemics strike.

It is vital to prepare for the health threats to come — from new pandemics to climate dangers — so that we prevent where we can and respond fast and effectively where we cannot.

I hope the current negotiations on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response result in a strong multilateral approach that saves lives. Together, we must also turbocharge progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

I have called for an SDG Stimulus to scale up affordable long-term financing for all countries in need by at least $500 billion a year. This can help to protect people both in times of crisis, and in the long term, by investing in measures such as universal health coverage.

And I urge countries to deliver.  Just as I urge you all to continue to work together, and to support the World Health Organization, to achieve the highest standard of health for all.


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