World Health Organization and EU commit to work together to accelerate progress on health

21 November

GENEVA/BRUSSELS – Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization has completed a series of meetings with President Juncker and senior European Commission. Officials. He also signed a joint statement with the European Parliament.

Dr Tedros commended the fruitful cooperation between the Commission and WHO, particularly in the fields of antimicrobial resistance, strengthening health systems and preparedness for outbreaks of communicable diseases in developing countries. President Juncker confirmed the support of the European Commission to the Global Action Plan on Health and Well Being to accelerate progress  to achieve Sustainable Development Goals, including goal number 3, related to healthy lives and well-being at all ages..

President Juncker and Dr Tedros also discussed the fruitful cooperation between the Commission and WHO, particularly in the fields of antimicrobial resistance, strengthening health systems, and preparedness for outbreaks of diseases in developing countries. They spoke about the importance of focusing on air pollution and agreed to jointly organize a Global Vaccination Summit, building on initiatives to increase vaccination and improve vaccination confidence in the EU, with the aim of avoiding unnecessary deaths from preventable diseases.

Dr Tedros met separately with Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis responsible for Health and Food Safety; Commissioner Neven Mimica, responsible for international cooperation and development Commissioner for Humanitarian aid and crisis management, Christos Stylianides and Commissioner Karmenu Vella, in charge of the Environment, Fisheries and Maritime Affairs;, as well as with Director-General for Research, Science and Innovation Jean Paquet.

On the occasion of  the 70th anniversaries of WHO and of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights , Dr Tedros emphasized that “Both WHO’s Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights assert that health is a human right, rather than a privilege for those who can afford it. But we must remember that the right to health is not a given. It takes renewed political commitment and leadership in every generation – including ours.”
“The right to health “has been a platform for major health improvements” in the past 70 years. Globally, life expectancy has increased by 25 years. Smallpox has been eradicated and polio is on the brink”, he added. However, Dr Tedros warned of the rise of new health threats and the need for “unrelenting political commitment” to achieve Universal health coverage and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Adina-Ioana Vălean, Chair of the European Parliament’s Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, said that “The exchange of views with WHO’s Director-General, Dr Tedros, is an opportunity to leave a solid legacy to our future colleagues in a form of a friendship group, that, we hope, could be formalised during the next legislature as an intergroup. To this extent, as a tangible sign of the wish to close cooperation between WHO and the EP, a Joint Statement has been signed by both parties”.

Dr Tedros thanked Members of the European Parliament for their commitment to the right to health and to the Global Action Plan for Healthy Lives and Well-Being, to be presented at the United Nations General Assembly in September 2019: “The new Joint Statement between WHO and the European Parliament will provide a great opportunity for future collaboration on achieving the health related Sustainable Development Goals ,” he concluded.