25 March 2021

Secretary-General, Addressing European Union Conference on Global Health, Commends ‘Team Europe’ Approach for Helping to Tackle COVID-19, Spur Development Worldwide

Following is the text of UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ video message, as delivered by Amina Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General, to the Conference on Strengthening the European Union Role in Global Health, today:

I am pleased to deliver this video message on behalf of Secretary-General António Guterres and would like to thank the Government of Portugal for hosting this conference.

The COVID-19 pandemic has claimed more than 2.6 million lives and caused a socio-economic impact of unprecedented magnitude in contemporary history.  It has exposed the grave risks of underfunded health systems, and the chronic lack of investments in pandemic preparedness.

This is a moment of reckoning for the whole world.  It should now be clear to all that, without ensuring every person’s right to health, we will never have just societies.  The crisis has exacerbated pre-existing inequalities across the world and has hit the most vulnerable especially hard.

I commend the European Union’s commitment to values-based multilateralism and your aspiration to strengthen your role in global health.  Increased European investments in strengthening public health and social protection systems around the world will help to build more resilient societies and economies.  Through the European Union’s political and financial support for the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator initiative, and the “Team Europe” approach, European Governments are already playing a stronger role in development cooperation.

Investing in an integrated “One Health” approach will be indispensable as we seek to address the complex health risks arising from the heightened interactions among people, animals and the natural environment.  The international community must also work together to strengthen manufacturing and production capacities across the globe, so that all countries have equitable access to essential health products, including critical diagnostics, medicines and vaccines.

Dear friends,

Investments in health are truly catalytic, with the ability to dramatically improve prospects for peace and security around the world.  The United Nations is eager to work with all partners to ensure an inclusive and sustainable recovery, and we look forward to collaborating with the European Union to bring its new global health vision to life.

Thank you.

For information media. Not an official record.