UN Chief Pushes for Global Cooperation as 76th World Health Assembly Begins

Geneva, MINA – UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres issued a rallying call for global cooperation as the 76th edition of the World Health Assembly started in Geneva on Sunday.

In a video message, Guterres urged member states to continue working together and to support the World Health Organization (WHO) in its efforts to ensure the “highest standard of health for all.”

He warned that the climate crisis, wars, and conflicts still threaten millions, if not billions, around the world.

“We risk further eroding the enormous gains made over the past decades, and backsliding on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” he said.

“But this is not inevitable,” said the UN chief, stressing that global cooperation remains key to keeping the world on a path of progress.

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He said that 75 years ago, in the earliest days of the UN, countries came together and affirmed some fundamental truths, including that “peace depends on health” and “disease in one nation endangers all.”

Since the founding of the WHO, human health has advanced dramatically, Guterres asserted.

Global life expectancy has increased by over 50%, infant mortality declined by 60% in 30 years, smallpox was eradicated, and polio has been brought to the verge of extinction, he said.

The COVID-19 pandemic has stalled, and even reversed, he added.

Guterres said he is pushing for an SDG stimulus to scale up affordable long-term financing for all countries in need, by at least $500 billion a year.

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“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,” he said.

The assembly, which will end on May 30, will determine the immediate and longer-term plans of the WHO, starting with its budget for the next two years, key decisions about sustainable financing, and efforts to improve its processes and accountability mechanisms.​​​​​​​(T/R3/RE1)

Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)