WHO Director−General’s opening remarks at the World Health Day press briefing – 7 April 2022

Joint Hybrid Press Convention with the US Division of Health and Human Companies (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra on World Health Day, Washington DC, United States of America

Thanks, Secretary Becerra, and good afternoon everybody.

I additionally thank Assistant Secretary for International Affairs Loyce Tempo and Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs Sarah Lovenheim.

It’s an actual pleasure to be right here in Washington, D.C., on World Health Day.

Over the previous few days, I’ve had a sequence of very productive conferences with representatives of the Administration, senators, home members and different leaders.

We renewed previous friendships and cast new ones.

We mentioned the COVID-19 pandemic, the struggle in Ukraine, and WHO’s 5 main priorities for the subsequent 5 years, together with supporting nations to make a paradigm shift in the direction of selling well being and stopping illness, not simply treating it;

radically reorienting well being methods in the direction of major well being care;

strengthening international capacities for pandemic preparedness and response;

harnessing the energy of science, analysis, innovation, knowledge and digital applied sciences for well being;

and persevering with to strengthen WHO as the main and directing authority on international well being.

World Health Day marks the day that the Structure of the World Health Group got here into impact, on the 7th of April 1948.

Though our headquarters are in Switzerland, in a method, WHO was born right here in the United States.

It was in 1945, throughout the Convention to determine the United Nations in San Francisco, that the concept of a global well being group was first proposed.

And at the Worldwide Health Convention in New York Metropolis the following yr, the Structure of the World Health Group was adopted by 51 Members of the UN, together with the United States.

For the previous 75 years, the United States has been a robust associate in international well being.

The US performed a pivotal position in eradicating smallpox – which stays one in every of the best achievements in the historical past of worldwide well being.

The US has continued to be a pacesetter in international well being, via PEPFAR, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Aid, in addition to its help for the response to malaria, TB, polio and plenty of different ailments.

The US has additionally been a robust supporter of WHO’s work to answer well being emergencies, together with the struggle in Ukraine.

With help from the United States, WHO is working with Ukraine’s Ministry of Health to maintain the nation’s well being system operating, and we’re working with neighbouring nations to help entry to look after refugees.

WHO and our companions have to this point delivered greater than 180 metric tonnes of medical provides to the hardest hit areas in Ukraine, and we’re making ready to ship extra.

We’re outraged that assaults on well being care are persevering with.

At present, on the 42nd day of the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, we crossed a grim milestone of greater than 100 assaults – as of now, WHO has verified 103 incidents of assaults on well being care, with 73 individuals killed and 51 injured, together with well being staff and sufferers.

Assaults on well being care are a violation of worldwide humanitarian legislation.

Peace is the solely approach ahead. I once more name on the Russian Federation to cease the struggle.


As Secretary Becerra described, the United States has LONG been a robust supporter of the international response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

America is the largest monetary donor to the ACT Accelerator because it started, and the largest donor of vaccines to COVAX, as Xavier outlined.

And we proceed to look to the US for its help to finish the pandemic globally, and to deal with the many different challenges to well being we face. Doing that is in the curiosity of the United States itself.

I’m painfully conscious that the pandemic has taken a heavy toll right here in the US. I provide my deep condolences to all Individuals who’ve misplaced somebody they love.

And I provide my deep appreciation and respect to each well being employee who has put themselves in hurt’s strategy to serve others in the course of the pandemic.

COVID-19 is a robust demonstration that when well being is at threat, every little thing is at threat.

The pandemic has highlighted the intimate hyperlinks between the well being of people, animals, and THE atmosphere.

And but we’re quickly making the planet on which all life relies upon uninhabitable.

Which is why World Health Day 2022’s theme is: Our planet, our well being.

The local weather disaster is a well being disaster.

Air air pollution kills 7 million individuals yearly, and 99% of the world’s inhabitants breathes unhealthy air, primarily because of burning fossil fuels.

Our warming world is facilitating the unfold of mosquitoes and the ailments they carry.

Excessive climate occasions, biodiversity loss, land degradation and water shortage are displacing individuals and damaging their well being.

Programs that produce extremely processed, unhealthy meals are driving a wave of weight problems, growing most cancers and coronary heart illness, and producing one-third of greenhouse fuel emissions.

There are answers at hand. WHO’s Manifesto for a Healthy Restoration from COVID-19 recommends greater than 80 concrete actions governments can absorb six coverage areas, with dividends for the well being of our planet and the well being of people.

The well being sector should lead by instance, and I applaud the US, below the management of Admiral Rachel Levine for its dedication to decarbonizing its well being system, as a part of WHO’s COP26 well being programme.

At WHO, we’ve got additionally dedicated to changing into carbon impartial by 2030.

This World Health Day, as the world recovers and rebuilds from the pandemic, we’ve got a alternative.

We will return to the approach issues have been, or we are able to change course.

We will create societies, economies and merchandise that nurture well being and well-being, and cease subsidising those who destroy it.

As a result of we can’t afford to pump carbon into the environment at the similar charge and nonetheless breathe clear air. We should select.

We can’t afford the similar patterns of consumption and anticipate much less diabetes, hypertension, coronary heart illness and most cancers. We should select.

We can’t afford ever-deepening inequalities, and anticipate continued prosperity. We should select.

And so this World Health Day, we name on all governments to decide on our planet, our well being.

Our planet, our well being.


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