Dr Harsh Vardhan chairs 147th session of WHO Executive Board, calls for global unity against COVID-19

Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare highlighted global partnerships and investment in global public health for strengthening health systems

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New Delhi: Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare digitally chaired the WHO Executive Board on 16th November through Video Conference.
Calling 2020 has been the year of collaborative action, Minister said, “Mankind was already fighting overwhelming challenges – Poverty, Hunger, Inequality, Climate Change. Pollution. Violence. War. Disease – and now the Pandemic which has shaken us to the core. But we came together as the nations of the world because we chose not to be overwhelmed.”
“We choose optimism and struggle to achieve. We choose a better future. There is no better future without Health For All. A lesson we knew; and a lesson that we have now re-learnt,” he added. “In India, we bless each other as Ayushman Bhava, which means may you have a long and healthy life, that itself is the essence of life and existence, that itself is the essence of our organization – the World Health Organization – which binds us all together and which is why we are all here today, together.”
Dr Vardhan stated that all the Member States of WHO share the same philosophy: Health above all. “Each member nation here will agree with me that in the gravest of situations, humankind has conquered its adversaries with collaborations and supplementing efforts of each other by pooling resources.”
“We at WHO believe in the principle that the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition. We, therefore, commit to work with the Member States; the Organization and the global community of partners for the efficient, effective and responsive discharge of public health obligations.”
The Union Health Minister also talked about how pandemic has made humanity acutely aware of the consequences of ignoring health systems strengthening and preparedness. In such times of global crisis, risk management and mitigation both would require further strengthening of global partnerships to re-invigorate interest and investment in global public health, he pointed out.
“As I happen to be the Health Minister of India, I would like to mention here that the South-East Asia Region and India are continuously striving to improve health services, their reach, delivery and quality, said Dr Vardhan while adding, “We have seen successes in all the Regional Flagship priority areas through collaborative action. We will continue to contribute to regional and global public health issues through advocacy, technical collaboration, research, innovations, digital health and partnerships aimed at improving the accessibility and affordability of health services and high-quality essential medicines and products.”
Dr Vardhan also highlighted the fact that the pandemic has claimed more than one million three hundred thousand precious lives, infected millions and snatched away the livelihoods of billions. He expressed his heartfelt condolences to those families across the world who have lost their near and dear ones to this deadly disease.
“This is the time that we must enhance our cooperation and collaboration. We must work in unison with each other as the Member States, with all UN Organizations, as well as the global community of partners, for the efficient, effective and responsive discharge of public health obligations”.
He also talked about the priorities including elaborated agenda to cover, which includes –   Outcome of the recently concluded resumed Session of the Seventy-third World Health Assembly and the Report of the Programme, Budget and Administration Committee of the Executive Board; along with few managerial, administrative, financial and staffing matters of the Organization.
Dr Harsh Vardhan acknowledged the contributions of the Member States, all Partners and stakeholders in overcoming serious health challenges and advancing health causes in the past seven decades.