WHO - World Health Organization

10/12/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 10/12/2021 07:28

WHO Director-General's remarks at the sixty-eighth session of the WHO Regional Committee for the Eastern Mediterranean

Your Excellency Dr Ali Muhammad Miftah Al-Zinati, Minister of Health of Libya and Chair of the Regional Committee,

Excellencies, my brother Ahmed, dear colleagues and friends,

First of all, my thanks and congratulations to Ahmed and the whole EMRO team for your detailed annual report.

The report conveys the scale of the challenges you face, and the many reasons for concern; but also the many achievements to celebrate, and the many reasons for optimism.

The pandemic has affected your region particularly severely, both in terms of the sisters and brothers it has robbed us of, but also in terms of the disruption to essential health services.

I congratulate all Member States for your outstanding efforts to restore essential health services.

In particular, I acknowledge your significant efforts to strengthen surveillance capacity, to build health worker capacity.

I offer my deep thanks and appreciation to all the region's health and care workers for your efforts during the pandemic, and I congratulate the recipients of the first Eastern Mediterranean Region Health Workers Recognition Awards:

Dr Myrna Doumit of Lebanon;

Ms Hinda Ali of Somalia;

Dr May El Meraisi and the COVID-19 Helpline Team of Qatar;

And Professor Hossam Hamdy of Egypt, who currently works in the UAE.

I also congratulate Member States for the innovative approaches you are taking, including through the use of digital technologies, and solutions like the ones Ahmed mentioned in Libya, Somalia, Palestine, Yemen and others.

During my recent visit to Bahrain, Kuwait and Oman, I was also pleased to see the innovative approaches these countries are taking to respond to COVID-19.

As Ahmed said, the response to the pandemic shows what is possible with political commitment at the highest levels.

Primary health care, NCDs, polio, communicable diseases, mental health, determinants of health - the list of challenges is long, and can seem overwhelming.

Each of these challenges demands the same urgency, the same determination, and the same innovation that you have harnessed in response to COVID-19.

And as Ahmed said, the crucial missing ingredient to the health, safety and security of the region is peace.

There can be no health without peace; and no peace without health.

Although the pandemic has caused us so much loss, pain and grief, it's also a powerful demonstration that health is not a luxury item; it's the foundation of safe, stable and prosperous societies.

We will never live in a perfect world. But we can live in a better world - a healthier, safer, fairer world.

Shukran jazeelan. I thank you.