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U.S. Statement at the WHO’s Session of the Executive Board on WHO’s Work in Health Emergencies
As Delivered by Ambassador Bathsheba Crocker
January 25, 2024

U.S. Statement at the World Health Organization’s

Session of the Executive Board on WHO’s Work in Health Emergencies (Item 14)

As Delivered by Ambassador Bathsheba Crocker

Geneva, Switzerland

Thank you, Chair.

The United States appreciates the report on WHO’s work in health emergencies.

We strongly support the WHO Health Emergencies Program’s critical work at the community, national, regional, and global levels. This report makes clear that much of the current health emergency work is heavily humanitarian and multi-hazard in nature.

We encourage WHO’s continued health response leadership and coordination in emergencies, through the UN Health Cluster, at national and local levels, and its support to front line health workers to deliver desperately needed services and supplies.

We appreciate the update on the WHO Surveillance System for Attacks on Health Care and encourage WHO to further its leadership in this area, address gaps in reporting, analyze data, and identify opportunities to utilize data to advocate for health care personnel and facilities.

The United States urges WHO to continue to operationalize holistic approaches to prevent and respond swiftly to sexual exploitation and abuse and sexual harassment during emergencies.

We remain committed to the negotiations of a Pandemic Agreement and amendments to the International Health Regulations (IHR) – and we are bringing sustainable solutions to the table. We appreciate the intense efforts of the Secretariat on both negotiations, and we urge the Secretariat to continue supporting Member States to work as transparently, flexibly, and creatively as possible to meet the May deadline.

We thank Slovakia, Croatia, Fiji, Mozambique, and Portugal for their leadership in developing the resolutions, and we are pleased to co-sponsor the resolutions on strengthening laboratory biological risk management and health emergency preparedness for disasters resulting from natural hazards.

We recognize that, globally, hostilities have destroyed record numbers of health infrastructure and led to critical shortages of medical supplies and staff, impeding lifesaving assistance, and increasing preventable civilian deaths. We commend WHO staff for their dedication to serving the world’s most vulnerable.

We recognize the devastating toll the Israel-Hamas conflict has had on humanitarian workers, with more than 150—including from WHO—killed in Gaza since October 7, and we deeply mourn their loss.

We believe Palestinians and Israelis equally deserve to live in safety, dignity, and peace, and we remain heartbroken by every civilian life lost, whether they are Palestinian or Israeli. We continue to support Israel’s right to defend itself against terrorism and to ensure a terrorist attack like October 7 never happens again.

However, how Israel does so matters. We continue to urge Israel to take all feasible measures to protect civilian lives. Hospitals, medical facilities, and medical staff must be protected.

As we indicated in December, we do not agree with every aspect of EBSS7.R1, as detailed in our explanation of position, which remains applicable.

Thank you, Chair.