WHO Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on countries to work together to strengthen health systems around the world, and enable more people to access them, citing the link between health, security and development.
“The security of all countries depends more and more on the capacity of each to act effectively, and collectively, to minimize current risks to health,” Mr. Ban said during the launch at UN Headquarters of the Foreign Policy and Global Health Initiative. “That applies equally to emerging threats that cannot be fully predicted.”
The Initiative – begun by France, Indonesia, Norway, Senegal, South Africa and Thailand – seeks to use diplomacy in securing better health for all, particularly for the most vulnerable, including by increasing access to health care and making it more affordable.
Mr. Ban stressed that in an increasingly globalized world, what happens in one country can have dramatic effects in many others. “From AIDS to avian influenza, we have learned that we need to work in synergy to address these threats that affect us all.”
He emphasized that disease, slowed development and global insecurity are inextricably linked, adding that “both domestic and foreign policies determine the extent to which people’s prospects are undermined by ill health.”
“Thanks to the efforts of many global actors, we now appreciate that investment in health is a cornerstone of economic growth and development, and a prerequisite for reaching most of the Millennium Development Goals.”
Health, which is affected by a range of factors – from extreme poverty and armed conflict to climate change, biotechnology, changing patterns of human behaviour and access to essential services – requires concerted action among various Government sectors, the Secretary-General stated.
“And it requires working hand in glove with civil society and the private sector – with a focus, always, on children, women and the most vulnerable,” he added.