It is a pleasure to convey my warm greetings to the 66th World Health Assembly.
With less than 1,000 days of action to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, you have gathered to make key decisions to reduce child mortality, improve maternal health, and combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, and other diseases.
We are seeing sustained commitment to implementing the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health, and working towards saving 16 million lives by 2015 through the Every Woman Every Child movement.
The Global Vaccine Action Plan (GVAP) adopted at the last World Health Assembly is a vital part of this effort. The development of better and more affordable vaccines and stronger health systems will save more than 20 million lives by 2020. Last month’s Global Vaccine Summit highlighted progress and called for renewed efforts to achieve the GVAP.
At this Assembly, you will consider a resolution on implementing the recommendations of the UN Commission on Life-saving Commodities for Women and Children. By improving access to just 13 basic medicines like contraceptives, antibiotics and oral rehydration salts, we can save 6 million lives within five years.
You will also examine a report on global efforts to prevent, control and eliminate malaria, with particular attention to steps to contain resistance to artemisinin, the key compound in the WHO-recommended first-line treatment.
The MDGs have undoubtedly been good for global health. As we shape plans for the post-2015 era, we must draw lessons from where we have succeeded and ensure that benefits are shared equitably. We must keep moving towards universal health coverage, so all people can have access to the health services they need without suffering financial hardship. We must build on what has been achieved through the MDGs, but also -- as highlighted by the agenda you have set for this meeting -- address other pressing health challenges such as noncommunicable diseases.
We must also remain poised to meet future needs. As the novel coronavirus and influenza H7N9 show, new public health challenges keep emerging. I know the World Health Organization will remain vigilant and support Member States in managing these outbreaks.
Once again, I thank you for all your efforts for better health around the world. Please accept my best wishes for a successful Assembly.