Delegation of the European Union to the
UN and other international organisations in Geneva

WHO - 73rd World Health Assembly - EU Statement: Item 3 - Report by the Director- General

Geneva, 18/05/2020 - 21:02, UNIQUE ID: 200518_17
Statements on behalf of the EU

Honourable Chair,

Distinguished Director-General,

Distinguished Delegates,

I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.

The Candidate Countries the Republic of North Macedonia[1], Montenegro[1], Serbia[1] and Albania[1], the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova as well as Armenia align themselves with this statement.

The global outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has challenged the world in unprecedented ways and put a heavy toll on people, societies and economies.

Strengthening efficient multilateralism and response is more essential now than ever before. We commend the WHO for its leadership and thank all WHO staff for their tireless and excellent work. We stress the pertinence of coordinated international cooperation and solidarity under the umbrella of the UN system and the crucial importance of measures taken at national level for a successful response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

We acknowledge the incredible dedication of all frontline workers who are crucial to the COVID-19 response. 2020 is the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife. Their contribution is indispensable and we thank them specifically.

We recognise the role of immunization in bringing the pandemic to an end and we consider this as a global public good for health. We ask WHO in close cooperation with other relevant international organizations to play a key role in realizing equitable access to vaccines and treatment against COVID-19 for everybody, wherever they are. We call upon all member states to continue their financial support to WHO in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now is also the time to show our solidarity towards the most affected and fragile states in line with the Agenda 2030 and the principle of leaving no-one behind. Our intensified efforts to achieving the SDGs will contribute largely to mitigate the negative effects of the COVID-19 crisis.

At the country level, a strong health system and a whole-of-government, whole-of-society and gender-responsive approach is the key to a successful response. Health systems now need to respond both to the pandemic, and to continue to safeguard essential programs and provide essential health services, including for immunization, maternal, new-born, child, adolescent, mental health, trauma prevention, and sexual and reproductive health, in accordance with the 2017 EU Consensus for Development.

We have led "The Coronavirus Global Response” pledging initiative with  WHO and global partners to accelerate the development, production and deployment of vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics, and to strengthen national health systems against COVID-19. We invite all Member States to contribute financially to this new initiative in favour of funding the ACT Accelerator. I would also like to recall the “Team Europe” package of €15.6 billion, combining EU and EU Member State resources to assist third countries for preparedness and response to COVID-19.

In this pandemic, the threat of antimicrobial resistance requires our attention. The importance of a One Health-approach must be incorporated.

We need to undertake an independent and comprehensive evaluation of the response to consider all relevant factors to prevent future outbreaks and strengthen preparedness, fully implementing and capitalizing on the IHR and aligning with international priorities. This includes the interface of human and animal health and wellbeing. The causes and prevention of zoonotic outbreaks needs our special attention and we would appreciate a report on this by the secretariat.

We thank Member States for their engagement in the negotiations on the resolution that is proposed by the EU and its MS, and the cosponsors for the consideration of this Assembly.

Now is the time to work together and mitigate the crisis. The health of each individual depends on the health of us all.

[1] The Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.


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