Dr. Harsh Vardhan chairs 147th session of WHO Executive Board

New Delhi: Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare digitally chaired the WHO Executive Board, here today through Video Conference.

His opening remarks are as follows:

Distinguished Members of the WHO Executive Board,

Hon’ble Ministers, Excellencies and other Member State representatives,

DG-WHO, Regional Director of WHO South-East Asia, Regional Directors of other Regions,

Heads & Representatives of UN Agencies, Partner Organizations,

Brothers, Sisters and Health-care Workers around the world!

Today, we have once again joined virtually for the Resumed 147th Session of the WHO Executive Board. I welcome you all today amidst what we all know are unprecedented times.

And yet, I would say that 2020 has been the year of collaborative action.

Mankind was already fighting overwhelming challenges – Poverty, Hunger, Inequality, Climate Change. Pollution. Violence. War. Disease – and now the Pandemic which has shaken us to the core. But we came together as the nations of the world because we chose not to be overwhelmed.

We choose optimism and struggle to achieve. We choose a better future.

There is no better future without Health For All. A lesson we knew; and a lesson that we have now re-learnt.

In India, we bless each other as Ayushman Bhava, which means may you have a long and healthy life, that itself is the essence of life and existence, that itself is the essence of our organization – the World Health Organization – which binds us all together and which is why we are all here today, together.

All the Member States of WHO share the same philosophy: Health above all.

Each member nation here will agree with me that in the gravest of situations, humankind has conquered its adversaries with collaborations and supplementing efforts of each other by pooling resources.

We at WHO believe in the principle that the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition. We, therefore, commit to work with the Member States; the Organization and the global community of partners for the efficient, effective and responsive discharge of public health obligations.

The pandemic has made humanity acutely aware of the consequences of ignoring health systems strengthening and preparedness. In such times of global crisis, risk management and mitigation both would require further strengthening of global partnerships to re-invigorate interest and investment in global public health.

I am sure that our constant engagement with each member state, their interface with each other as well as all stakeholders will reinforce reforms and help accelerate progress toward the sustainable development goals and universal health coverage with the most productive, efficient and targeted utilization of resources.

As I happen to be the Health Minister of India, I would like to mention here that the South-East Asia Region and India are continuously striving to improve health services, their reach, delivery and quality. We have seen successes in all the Regional Flagship priority areas through collaborative action. We will continue to contribute to regional and global public health issues through advocacy, technical collaboration, research, innovations, digital health and partnerships aimed at improving the accessibility and affordability of health services and high-quality essential medicines and products.

Excellencies,

This pandemic has claimed more than one million three hundred thousand precious lives, infected millions and snatched away the livelihoods of billions. My heartfelt condolences to those families across the world who have lost their near and dear ones to this deadly disease.

I also take this opportunity to salute our doctors and health-workers who had been working relentlessly in rendering selfless services to fight this deadly disease and I urge all of you to please join me in giving them a big hand.

Excellencies and Distinguished Delegates,

In the last over 10 months of this pandemic, I have observed that the World Health Organization, with a mandate to be the lead agency for health, has done a commendable job of working along with Member States from the very beginning to provide required technical assistance to support the continuation of essential health-care service delivery.

WHO and its Member States across the globe are committed to harnessing this opportunity to build back health systems that are more resilient, and which can meet everyone’s health needs.

We are already identifying and acting on the lessons learnt from the current crisis so that together we can achieve more robust and resilient health systems that can promote a sustained economic recovery and a healthier future for people across the world.

Let me mention that from the beginning of the outbreak, all Member States have acted with speed, scale and solidarity to control and suppress the spread of COVID-19 and empower individuals and communities to stay safe, healthy and well.

Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,

This is the time that we must enhance our cooperation and collaboration. We must work in unison with each other as Member States, with all UN Organizations, as well as the global community of partners, for efficient, effective and responsive discharge of public health obligations.

Excellencies,

Today, for the current Session, we have an elaborate agenda to cover, which includes – Outcome of the recently concluded resumed Session of the Seventy-third World Health Assembly and the Report of the Programme, Budget and Administration Committee of the Executive Board; along with few managerial, administrative, financial and staffing matters of the Organization.

I am looking forward to your active engagement and fruitful deliberations on these agenda items.

Finally, I take this opportunity to once again thank all of you for reposing your faith and trust in me and look forward to our association and continued cooperation.

Acknowledging the contributions of our Member States, our Organization, all Partners and all stakeholders in overcoming serious health challenges and advancing health causes in the past seven decades, I would like to state that the global family shall again prevail!

 

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