Statement by Nils Daulaire, Head of the U.S. Delegation to the World Health Assembly

 

Heads of Delegation Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Dr. Nils Daulaire briefing WHA delegations on the Global Health Initiative

Statement by Dr. Nils Daulaire

Head of the U. S. Delegation to WHA,

Director of Global Health Affairs, Department of Health and Human Services

Geneva, Switzerland

May 21, 2010

Media Contacts: Michael Parmly – 41.22.749.4360

Dori Salcido –  +1-202.577.8415
dori.salcido@hhs.gov

At the 2010 World Health Assembly, the United States delegation led by Secretary Sebelius and Nils Daulaire reaffirmed its commitment to working with the World Health Organization and its member countries to improve the health of all nations.

Over the past few days, we laid the foundation for continuing global progress in areas from expanding access to health care to reducing health disparities to responding to pandemics such as H1N1 to preventing and treating non-communicable diseases.

These global issues can only be achieved if we work together and it will take leadership, vision and commitment from all sectors of society.

We are encouraged that the WHA adopted a voluntary Code of Practice for the international recruitment of health personnel, which we strongly support. We recognize the critical shortage of trained health professionals in the world’s poorest countries and neediest communities, and are committed to addressing that need through a wide range of efforts. We believe the Code will be a useful tool for all countries in strengthening health systems and building the health workforce in ways that respond to the truly global nature of the challenges we face in human resources for health.

Under President Obama’s leadership, the U.S. has made improving health around the world a top priority. The President’s historic six year, $63 billion Global Health Initiative expands and builds upon existing programs and incorporates what we’ve learned in the last decade to generate measurable, sustainable outcomes.

For example, it embraces the global commitment to improving maternal and child health by expanding efforts to make pregnancy and childbirth safer, increasing education of family planning and reproductive health, and strengthening health systems to better respond to the needs of women and girls.

At the World Health Assembly, we were encouraged by our progress in many areas. Secretary Sebelius met earlier this week with the Organization of the Islamic Conference and was inspired by the ongoing cooperative work pledged from all sides of the Organization of the Islamic Conference to improve maternal and child health and to eradicate polio. Though a lot of work remains to be done, the number of polio cases has significantly declined over the past year and we look forward to the day when the polio virus is eradicated from the world.

We also signed an important Memorandum of Agreement with Saudi Arabia highlighting our mutual interest in strengthening our public health defenses, from improving disease surveillance to expanding training and human research capacity development. This is our first agreement with the Saudis on public health in recent memory. The agreement represents an important step forward in building global capacity to detect, diagnose and treat disease, on scientific and public health collaboration, and to a world free of polio.

As we look forward to another year of cooperation on global health, we want to thank the WHO for its work on a global strategy for the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases that includes promoting healthier eating to help reduce the growing epidemic of childhood obesity. This is also a priority for the Obama Administration, especially the First Lady who has launched a national campaign to raise awareness of childhood obesity and the importance of healthy eating.

There is a growing understanding that the only way we can solve our biggest global health challenges is by working together. The 2010 World Health Assembly was an excellent opportunity for the U.S. to strengthen and expand these global health partnerships.

We’ve made significant progress on global health in the last year – and in the last week here in Geneva – but there is still important work to do.

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Photos from the World Health Assembly from the U.S. Mission Flickr Feed

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