On Sunday, during a special session of the World Health Organization’s Executive Board, top health officials representing the 34 countries that comprise the Board unanimously endorsed a resolution that aims to bolster WHO’s capacity to detect and respond to disease outbreaks and other health emergencies. This decision comes amid the ongoing effort to halt the deadly Ebola outbreak in West Africa, which was the focus of the special session.
Key provisions of the resolution include: fast-tracking the implementation of core capacities under the International Health Regulations (IHR); building up a global health emergency workforce; establishing a contingency fund that can be quickly tapped into for early rapid response; and increasing support for the development of vaccines, diagnostics and treatments for emerging diseases.
United Nations Foundation President and CEO Kathy Calvin highlighted the importance of this measure and expressed support for the reforms, saying:
“The World Health Organization’s Executive Board has taken clear and decisive action by passing a resolution that will empower the world’s leading health agency to better prepare for future emergencies like the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.
“The global community has learned during the course of the Ebola outbreak that we were, collectively, unprepared to meet many of the challenges presented by an outbreak of this nature and magnitude. WHO and other partners involved in the response have been candid about where we could have responded faster and more effectively. But we have also seen, in the course of mobilizing a global response to the outbreak, the indispensable nature of WHO. The leadership of the United Nations and its agencies has been the driving force in the progress that has been made towards reaching zero Ebola cases. Such leadership will continue to be crucial to outbreak response efforts, in combination with the strong commitments of governments to strengthen their health systems and improve their countries’ preparedness.
“As the lifesaving work of the UN and its partners continues in West Africa, it is imperative that we take this opportunity to learn from the past and implement changes that will better prepare us for the future. The newly endorsed resolution offers reforms that are critical to ensuring that WHO has the means and ability to respond to outbreaks and health emergencies. These reforms will require commitment and resources from the Member States that WHO serves. When undertaken, however, such reforms can help create a more coordinated, better prepared WHO and a healthier world.”
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The United Nations Foundation builds public-private partnerships to address the world’s most pressing problems, and broadens support for the United Nations through advocacy and public outreach. Through innovative campaigns and initiatives, the Foundation connects people, ideas, and resources to help the UN solve global problems. The Foundation was created in 1998 as a U.S. public charity by entrepreneur and philanthropist Ted Turner and now is supported by global corporations, foundations, governments, and individuals. For more information, visit www.unfoundation.org.