Delegation of the European Union to the

UN and other international organisations in Geneva

Strengthening WHO in times of the Covid-19 pandemic and beyond

28/01/2021 - 00:00
News stories

A year into the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the 148th session of the Executive Board (EB) of the WHO has dealt with over forty agenda items, ranging from mental health, antimicrobial resistance, diabetes to strengthening WHO. Whilst COVID-19 remains clearly on everybody’s mind, other health programmes must not be neglected any more as they have already been disrupted by the pandemic itself. A strengthened WHO is therefore needed more than ever.


As the global COVID-19 response remains a challenge in 2021, the EU and its Member States as “Team Europe” have stepped up by contributing to the ACT Accelerator and joined the COVAX Facility, to promote equitable and affordable access to COVID-19 tools and immunisation against COVID-19 as a global public good.


As pressing as the COVID-19 response is, other health issues are not just going away, but might deteriorate over time, if immunisation and health programmes are halted as a result of COVID-19. In order to avoid that and to provide WHO member states with the necessary assistance and technical guidance for building and maintaining effective and resilient health systems, a strong WHO is indispensable. With this in mind, the EU-led decision on WHO strengthening was adopted by the EB with overwhelming cross-regional support. The EU and its member states have proven once again to be driving force for multilateralism and a leader in global health issues. Building on this, the EU leads inclusive negotiations towards a resolution on WHO strengthening for adoption by the World Health Assembly in May 2021.


By drawing attention to the yet unknown long-term trends resulting from the social restrictions related to the pandemic, the EU took a strong stance on the mental health crisis and co-sponsored the decision on “Promoting mental health preparedness and response for public health emergencies”. Further recognizing that persons with disabilities are disproportionately affected by public health emergencies, such as COVID-19, the EU was actively engaged in the drafting and eventually co-sponsoring a resolution on “The highest attainable standard of health for persons with disabilities” which the Executive Board adopted. Overall, the EU’s strong commitment to enhancing global health security was reflected in its strong visibility and consistency throughout the 148th session of the Executive Board.


All EU statements at the WHO Executive Board can be found here

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