UN Secretary-General lauds global health achievements

“The progress we have achieved did not happen on its own.  We have made headway when we have agreed on goals, focused on results and recognized the importance of measuring achievement and improving accountability,” said United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in his message delivered by Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva during the opening of the World Health Assembly last May 21, 2012.

The Health Assembly discussed a number of public health issues such as universal health coverage, Millennium Development Goals, non-communicable diseases, mental disorders, nutrition and adolescent pregnancy.

In January 2012, the UN Secretary-General focused his second term’s action agenda on health. He stressed, “Ensuring better health is critical for achieving the Millennium Development Goals and advancing sustainable development.”

Sec. Gen. Ban Ki-moon cited several remarkable progresses demonstrated by the partnerships from the governments, the United Nations (UN), the private sector and the civil society. “Fewer women worldwide are dying in pregnancy and childbirth. More are receiving antiretroviral treatment to prevent the transmission of HIV to their children. More children are being immunized against measles, tetanus, and polio. More households are being protected from malaria and more people are getting treatment.” He added, “This Assembly’s focus on nutrition, among mothers, infants and young children, highlights renewed determination to address the global hunger challenge.”

Financial support, investments in innovative technology, medicine, social policy and service delivery, national ownership and leadership are fundamental to meeting people’s health needs. “The Roll Back Malaria partnership, the Measles Initiative, the GAVI Alliance, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, and the Global Polio Eradication Initiative all demonstrates how effective joint action can be. The Every Woman, Every Child movement has rallied around the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health, with the goal of saving the lives of 16 million women and children by 2015,” reported the Secretary General.

To accomplish the remaining targets, the UN Secretary General proposed to: 1) complete the final drive in eliminating five major preventable diseases: malaria, polio, new pediatric HIV infections, maternal and neonatal tetanus and measles; 2) fully implement the Global Strategy for Women and Children's Health; and 3) put an end to the hidden tragedy of stunting that affects almost 200 million children.

“Remarkable progress is being made across the health agenda. Thanks to your efforts, we have made a good start. Let us finish the job,” urged the Secretary-General.