Dr Margaret Chan
Director-General of the World Health Organization
Mister President, Excellencies, honourable ministers, ambassadors, distinguished delegates, colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,
I have taken one overarching message from this Assembly. We can do anything in the world we want to, provided we speak with a united voice.
Your support for the new programme on health emergencies sends a powerful political signal. You want WHO, as the single agency with universal legitimacy in matters of international health, to lead and coordinate the response to emergencies. This function stays at WHO. Thank you.
Your support extends to the legitimacy of the International Health Regulations as the only legal instrument governing global health security. You appreciate the urgency of building core capacities to implement the IHR in more countries.
You want this done systematically, aided by external evaluations that give priority to vulnerable counties in a process of continuous improvements. You want this done under the authority and coordination of WHO.
During your discussions of multiple agenda items, you repeatedly referred to resilient health systems as the foundation for all efforts to improve or protect health. You stressed that IHR capacities must be built as an integral part of the health system, not something tacked on.
You enthusiastically embraced the 2030 agenda for sustainable development. As you noted, the SDGs explicitly recognize the role of multisectoral collaboration in tackling some of today’s biggest health threats.
The social, economic, and environmental determinants of health are extremely broad. We cannot reach any of the health-related targets without addressing these determinants.
Targets under the health goal are ambitious yet feasible. You approved additional global strategies for taking the work forward on several targets, both those carried over from the MDG era and new ones in the SDG agenda.
At the same time, several Member States described the challenges as immense and called for further technical support from WHO and financial support from partners. Even increased financing from domestic resources will not be enough in several countries to take on such ambitious goals.
Your extremely strong commitment to universal health coverage warms my heart. Of all targets under the new agenda, this is the one that most decisively leaves no one behind. It is inclusive, feasible, and measurable. It is good for health and good for the cohesion and stability of societies.
As several noted, achieving the targets depends absolutely on freeing women and girls to realize their full potential as agents of change.
You looked at the environment, at air pollution and the management of hazardous chemicals. You took the action plan on AMR a step forward with consideration of a global stewardship framework.
The item on polio was a high point during this Assembly. What will surely be one of the greatest achievements in the history of public health is now within our grasp.
The commitment everywhere, and especially in Afghanistan and Pakistan, is unwavering. You appreciate, too, that the infrastructure needed to reach every child will benefit many other initiatives that depend on leaving no one out.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The framework on engagement with non-state actors was arguably the most difficult item to negotiate. Thanks to the extraordinary skills of the chair from Argentina, we now have an agreed framework as a contribution to WHO reform. Your leadership, commitment, and flexibility come at an opportune time. Without this framework, we could not move forward to support Member States in the 2030 agenda for sustainable development.
As we heard from several speakers, this is a challenging but exciting time for health. As some delegates noted, WHO is needed now more than ever before.
As I conclude, I need to comment on one big challenge painfully apparent during this session. That is, getting through 76 agenda items in 6 days.
The fact that you got through such a mammoth agenda is a credit to the outstanding skills of the President, the Committee chairs and other officers of this Assembly.
I commend all delegates for their discipline. Interventions were brief and to the point.
Your confidence in WHO leadership is well-placed, as you have an extremely dedicated group of staff, including our Regional Directors, throughout this Organization to rely upon.
I wish you all a safe journey home.