As delivered by Elizabeth Cameron
Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Global Health Security and Biodefense White House National Security Council
I’m honored to speak here today on behalf of the United States Government.
This World Health Assembly may be the most consequential convening of this body in our lifetimes. The global pandemic continues to upend the lives and livelihoods of millions, and we must all confront the fact that still, today, the virus is moving faster than we are.
Those gathered here today have unmatched experience, and we’re further aided by the wisdom and expertise of expert panels – so we have no shortfall in knowledge.
We’ve made considerable progress – in building the capacity of our countries to prevent, detect and respond to global health threats; but progress is not enough to defeat a virus whose only fear is our success.
The United States believes that even as we join forces to end this pandemic, we must also, now and without fail, succeed in a united effort to achieve global health security.
On this, I am sure we all agree. But agreeing upon a goal is relatively easy. The harder work comes with agreeing on a concrete and tangible plan of action that commits us to take measurable steps, to which we all agree to be held accountable.
We believe that our success rests in building a strong foundation by focusing squarely and practically on four key imperatives:
First, we must reform and modernize our existing institutions to render them both agile and fit for purpose. And in doing so, we must remember that these institutions are only as strong as the commitments of their members.
Second, we must secure full adherence to the norms that enable global health security, and consider the establishment of new norms, as warranted and based on what we’ve learned from this pandemic.
Third, we must land the solution to financing, and in particular financing the capacity building that is necessary to ensure that all countries can prepare for but also prevent, detect and respond to the threats that we know are coming. We cannot depend solely on unpredictable flows of aid, as this mission requires predictable and sustainable financing over time.
Finally and fourth are the enablers – the principles which, if rendered actionable, will define our success or failure. These are oversight, transparency and accountability. Without these, we can offer up the right words, and perhaps even achieve modest progress – but we can’t fully succeed.
Success will demand of us real and actionable commitments, resources and, most importantly, political capital. The United States is prepared to do the hard work required of all of us, and we look forward to working with this body, and its members, to achieve the unity of purpose that can protect our friends, our families, our communities, our countries, and our world. Nothing else will suffice.