Following is the text of UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ video message for the opening of the World Health Assembly, held in Geneva today:
Excellencies, guests, dear friends,
This year’s World Health Assembly arrives at a time when global health continues to be challenged like never before. Climate change and pollution, conflicts, deepening poverty and inequality, stretched and underfunded health systems and a third year of COVID-19.
The pandemic is a stark reminder of the deep connections between human health and the health of our world. And a moral test that humanity is tragically failing, because of inequitable access to vaccines and hoarding.
But, throughout these crises, the World Health Organization (WHO) has been a steadfast source of hope and support. The women and men of the WHO are not only on the front lines of the COVID-19 response — scaling-up vaccinations, testing and treatments. They are leading the battle against other preventable diseases like measles, tuberculosis, typhoid, malaria, cervical cancer, hepatitis and HIV/AIDS. They are safeguarding access to primary health care, clean water and basic sanitation. Community by community, they are pushing us closer to our goal of universal health coverage for all. And they are gathering the world around preparedness to address and even prevent future pandemics.
But, across this essential work, WHO needs global support and investment. Sustainable funding is one of the top issues being discussed at this year’s Assembly. There is no greater return on investment than health. For people, for economies and jobs, for peace and security, for our planet, health is hope. So, as you gather for this Assembly, I urge you — Invest in a healthier future for all. Invest in hope.