An official website of the United States government

U.S. Statement on Public Health Emergencies: Preparedness and Response
February 6, 2020

U.S. Statement on Public Health Emergencies: Preparedness and Response
World Health Organization Executive Board – Agenda Item 15.2

Geneva, February 6, 2020
As delivered by Ambassador Andrew Bremberg

Thank you, the United States will make one statement.

We would like to congratulate WHO on progress made in emergency preparedness under the International Health Regulations, especially launching several new tools to close life-threatening gaps in preparedness and improve the efficiency of response.  We encourage WHO to continue these efforts. The U.S. Government’s support to the Health Emergencies Program is meant to promote WHO’s ability to respond to several Grade 3 emergencies simultaneously.  The ongoing Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo coupled with the responses to newly emerging novel Coronavirus (nCoV) outbreaks, have emphasized the importance of strong coordination at all levels and a multi-sectoral approach for pathogens of pandemic potential, including enhanced security, robust data sharing, and community engagement.

We urge WHO to demonstrate steadfast global leadership while providing timely and effective coordination with other UN agencies, Member States and NGOs, and the wider international community in every response.  The United States encourages WHO to work with Member States and its partners to identify gaps in preparedness that need to be addressed immediately to ensure timely detection and rapid response to public health threats.  For the rapidly evolving coronavirus, it is a technical imperative that WHO present visible public health data on Taiwan as an affected area, and engage directly with Taiwan public health authorities on actions.

We appreciate the creation of the preparedness division under ADG Mahjour within the Health Emergencies Program and recognize preparedness as a critical part of addressing health emergencies.  We encourage WHO to continue to prioritize the Health Cluster as the mechanism for humanitarian health coordination in all hazards, and to strengthen coordination between the Incident Management System and the Health Cluster.

Once again, we deeply appreciate all that China is doing on behalf of its own people and the world, and we look forward to continuing to work together as we move ahead in response to the coronavirus.  Lastly, as I stated on Monday, the United States is implementing appropriate public health measures in keeping with WHO’s recommendations, and the IHR’s, to minimize the spread based on the best available evidence.

We would ask the WHO to provide technical assistance to Member States to better understand how they too can implement appropriate travel restrictions consistent with the IHRs that support the domestic travel restrictions China has put in place to minimize the spread.  Thank you.