During the annual opening of the Assembly of the World Health Organization (WHO) This Sunday, the Secretary-General of the United Nations stressed that the agency was born out of a spirit of cooperation, which led to dramatic improvements in human health.
“Life expectancy in the world has increased by more than 50%; infant mortality has fallen by 60% in 30 years; smallpox has been eradicated; and polio is on the brink of extinction.”
However, António Guterres pointed out that this progress is in jeopardy. “war and conflicts They threaten millions of people. The health of billions is endangered by the climate crisis“.
The UN head also added that COVID-19 had stalled, and even reversed, the constant improvements in public health, and caused a setback in the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.
“But this is not inevitable,” he continued. “We can return to the path of progress. We can make our health and wellness ambitions a reality for all. But only if the world works together. If we cooperate, despite the tensions in relations between nations.”
Guterres added that promoting public health in the long term meant strengthen the independence, authority and funding of WHO“which is at the center of our international effort” and must have a key coordinating role in the fight against the next pandemic.
As international negotiations continue for a new action plan against pandemics“It is vital to prepare for looming health threats, from new pandemics to climate hazards, so that we prevent where we can and respond quickly and effectively where we cannot,” said the UN official.
Reinforcing that message in his introductory speech to the Assembly, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that the world’s exit from the dark tunnel of COVID-19 was not “just the end of a bad dream from which we we have woken up We can’t just go on like before“.
“You have to understand the painful lessons of the pandemic. The main one is that we can only deal with shared threats with a shared response,” he explained.
Like the Framework Agreement of the Organization for Tobacco Control, the agreement on the pandemic that is being negotiated “should be a historic agreement to give a paradigm shift to global health securityrecognizing that our destinies are intertwined,” he added.
This is the time to write together a new chapter in the history of global health; to chart a new path together; to make together a safer world for our children and grandchildren”.
New disease protection network
The Assembly has been inaugurated as the Organization and its partners launch a new network to help protect people around the world from infectious diseasesthanks to the power of pathogen genomics.
The International Pathogen Surveillance Network It will provide a platform for connecting countries and regions, improving sample collection and analysis systems, using the data to drive public health decision-making, and sharing that information more widely, the WHO said in a press release. .
Pathogen genomics analyzes the genetic code of viruses, bacteria, and other disease-causing organisms to understand their degree of infectivity, mortality and spread.
The Network will have a secretariat housed in the Intelligence Center on Pandemics and Epidemics, with an ambitious goal, “which can also play a vital role in health security: give all countries access sequencing and genomic analysis of pathogens as part of their public health system,” said Tedros.
“As has been so clearly demonstrated to us during the COVID-19 pandemic, the world is strongest when it stands together to fight shared health threats.”