New York/Geneva – In a historic series of events at the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA 78), world leaders and global health organizations have come together to address critical public health challenges. The World Health Organization (WHO) has emphasized the urgent need for action and collaboration to achieve health for all and tackle pressing issues such as pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response, ending tuberculosis (TB), and advancing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, stressed that the COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the interconnectedness of health and the global community. He called on world leaders to prioritize health as an investment, not a cost, and as fundamental to resilient societies and economies.
Global Health at the Forefront: WHO urged leaders at UNGA 78 to make global health a top priority in light of ongoing humanitarian and climate-related crises that threaten lives and livelihoods worldwide.
Pandemic Prevention and Response: High-level meetings focused on strengthening pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Universal Health Coverage: Commitments were made to accelerate progress toward universal health coverage (UHC) to ensure equitable access to essential health services for all.
End TB: Leaders approved a Political Declaration with ambitious targets to advance efforts to end the tuberculosis epidemic by 2030.
Sustainable Development Goals: Progress on SDGs, particularly those related to health, were assessed during the SDG Summit.
Trust and Collaboration: The WHO Global Evidence-to-Policy (E2P) Summit highlighted the importance of building trust, fostering collaboration, and engaging citizens in evidence-informed decision-making.
TB Vaccine Accelerator Council: A new council was launched to facilitate the development, licensing, and use of new TB vaccines.
Genomic Surveillance: WHO released a guide to help countries develop national genomic surveillance strategies for pathogens with pandemic and epidemic potential, building on lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr. Tedros emphasized that universal health coverage is a political choice that requires substantial investments in primary health care to ensure inclusivity and efficiency. The commitment to allocate additional resources could save millions of lives and boost average life expectancy by 3.7 years by 2030.
Furthermore, the TB vaccine accelerator council aims to address the gaps in TB prevention and care services, including the development of new vaccines. This initiative reflects the global commitment to ending the preventable and curable disease.
In addition, the WHO’s guide on genomic surveillance provides a strategic framework for countries to sustain and enhance their genomic surveillance capabilities to respond effectively to emerging pathogens.
The events at UNGA 78 demonstrate a collective resolve to prioritize global health, build trust, and collaborate effectively in the face of current and future public health challenges. By reaffirming their commitment to these critical initiatives, world leaders are taking concrete steps towards a healthier, safer, and fairer world for all.
For more information, please visit WHO’s official website – News.