WHO Director-General’s opening remarks at Friends of Europe festival of politics and ideas to transform Europe

WHO Director-General’s opening remarks at Friends of Europe festival of politics and ideas to transform Europe

WHO Director-General’s opening remarks at Friends of Europe festival of politics and ideas to transform Europe

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WHO Director-General’s opening remarks at Friends of Europe festival of politics and ideas to transform Europe

WHO Director-General’s opening remarks at Friends of Europe festival of politics and ideas to transform Europe

PR Newswire

GENEVA, 14 October 2020 /PRNewswire Policy/ — Excellencies, dear colleagues, friends,

Good morning, and thank you for the opportunity to share a few reflections with you today.

The COVID-19 pandemic is radiating shock waves across countries, their populations and economies.

As you know, Europe is now seeing an increase in reported cases. More cases have been reported in each of the past 6 weeks than at the height of the first peak in March.

Countries at all income levels are affected, and the rapid emergence and spread of the virus has revealed critical gaps in national health systems’ capacities.

The pandemic has disrupted economies and overwhelmed even some of the most advanced health systems, while some of the measures taken to respond to it, such as so-called lockdowns, have badly affected many people’s ability to earn their livelihood.

Even as we use every tool at our disposal to end the pandemic, we must all use this period of crisis as an opportunity to look in the mirror and ask what we must do differently.

Today I would like to suggest three fundamental shifts that WHO believes all countries must make.

First, invest in public health.

In recent years, many countries have made huge investments and advances in medicine, but too many have neglected their basic public health systems, which are the bedrock for preventing, preparing for, detecting and responding to outbreaks.

In other words, too many countries have prioritised the medicalisation of their health systems at the expense of the basic measures that prevent people getting sick in the first place.

WHO believes that the single most important action all countries can take is to invest in essential public health functions.

This includes immunization, surveillance, laboratory capacity, infection prevention and control, health promotion, vector control and improved water and sanitation that can help us be better prepared.

It also includes essential governance functions, such as regulation to ensure quality and accessibility, and taxation to raise revenue.

These common goods for health provide an excellent return on investment. Yet they are regularly underutilized.

Indeed, many aspects of the current crisis can be attributed to disinvestment in core public health functions, as well as short-sighted social, economic and environmental policies.

Second, take a One Health approach.

The pandemic has highlighted the intimate links between the health of humans, animals and planet, which we can only address with a One Health approach.

Any efforts to improve human health are doomed unless they address the critical interface between humans and animals, and the existential threat of climate change that is making our earth less habitable.

WHO recently published our “Manifesto for a Healthy and Green Recovery”, with policy prescriptions for protecting natural resources, investing in water and sanitation, renewable energy, healthy food systems, and liveable cities.

It includes more than 80 specific actions for governments at all levels.

Third, go beyond the health sector.

The title of this session is rethinking health systems. I respectfully suggest that is far too narrow.

We will not prevent the next pandemic by focusing only on health systems.

The pandemic has affected every sector, so it stands to reason that every sector must be involved in the recovery, and in preparedness.

We must also address the reasons get people sick and die, in the air they breathe, the food they eat, the water they drink, and the conditions in which they live and work.

Just as the pandemic requires an all-of-government, all-of-society response, so does promoting and protecting health.

Invest in public health. Take a One Health Approach. And go beyond the health sector.

These are the fundamental shifts I believe our world must make, both to safeguard against future health emergencies, and to promote and protect the health of everyone, everywhere.

Thank you.

SOURCE World Health Organization (WHO)

GENEVA, 14 October 2020 /PRNewswire Policy/ — Excellencies, dear colleagues, friends,

Good morning, and thank you for the opportunity to share a few reflections with you today.

The COVID-19 pandemic is radiating shock waves across countries, their populations and economies.

As you know, Europe is now seeing an increase in reported cases. More cases have been reported in each of the past 6 weeks than at the height of the first peak in March.

Countries at all income levels are affected, and the rapid emergence and spread of the virus has revealed critical gaps in national health systems’ capacities.

The pandemic has disrupted economies and overwhelmed even some of the most advanced health systems, while some of the measures taken to respond to it, such as so-called lockdowns, have badly affected many people’s ability to earn their livelihood.

Even as we use every tool at our disposal to end the pandemic, we must all use this period of crisis as an opportunity to look in the mirror and ask what we must do differently.

Today I would like to suggest three fundamental shifts that WHO believes all countries must make.

First, invest in public health.

In recent years, many countries have made huge investments and advances in medicine, but too many have neglected their basic public health systems, which are the bedrock for preventing, preparing for, detecting and responding to outbreaks.

In other words, too many countries have prioritised the medicalisation of their health systems at the expense of the basic measures that prevent people getting sick in the first place.

WHO believes that the single most important action all countries can take is to invest in essential public health functions.

This includes immunization, surveillance, laboratory capacity, infection prevention and control, health promotion, vector control and improved water and sanitation that can help us be better prepared.

It also includes essential governance functions, such as regulation to ensure quality and accessibility, and taxation to raise revenue.

These common goods for health provide an excellent return on investment. Yet they are regularly underutilized.

Indeed, many aspects of the current crisis can be attributed to disinvestment in core public health functions, as well as short-sighted social, economic and environmental policies.

Second, take a One Health approach.

The pandemic has highlighted the intimate links between the health of humans, animals and planet, which we can only address with a One Health approach.

Any efforts to improve human health are doomed unless they address the critical interface between humans and animals, and the existential threat of climate change that is making our earth less habitable.

WHO recently published our “Manifesto for a Healthy and Green Recovery”, with policy prescriptions for protecting natural resources, investing in water and sanitation, renewable energy, healthy food systems, and liveable cities.

It includes more than 80 specific actions for governments at all levels.

Third, go beyond the health sector.

The title of this session is rethinking health systems. I respectfully suggest that is far too narrow.

We will not prevent the next pandemic by focusing only on health systems.

The pandemic has affected every sector, so it stands to reason that every sector must be involved in the recovery, and in preparedness.

We must also address the reasons get people sick and die, in the air they breathe, the food they eat, the water they drink, and the conditions in which they live and work.

Just as the pandemic requires an all-of-government, all-of-society response, so does promoting and protecting health.

Invest in public health. Take a One Health Approach. And go beyond the health sector.

These are the fundamental shifts I believe our world must make, both to safeguard against future health emergencies, and to promote and protect the health of everyone, everywhere.

Thank you.

SOURCE World Health Organization (WHO)