GENEVA, Switzerland: The World Health Leaders met in the historical 73rd Session of the World Health Assembly (WHA) via the virtual de minimis platform today for the first time since its inception. The opening of the session today was witnessed by hundreds of health leaders, health practitioners and experts from across the 192 Member States including civil society organizations. The two days session commenced on May 18 and is expected to be concluded by May 19, 2020. Whilst addressing the Assembly, the Hon. Dr. Ifereimi Waqainabete, Minister for Health and Services shared Fiji’s COVID-19 experiences, saying that the global pandemic was an extraordinary event for all humanity and has brought suffering to countless families and communities across the globe. The Hon. Waqainabete acknowledged the strong and decisive leadership of the Hon. Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and the Fijian government which enabled Fiji’s effective containment of the pandemic. This attributed to Fiji’s 78 percent recovery rate which had successfully broken the chain of transmission. Further, the Hon. Waqainabete stressed that the WHO including the global leaders should focus not only on the pandemic but more so on the other issues confronting the global community such as the impact of climate change.
The 73rd Session of the WHA was officially opened by the Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr Antonio Guterres. Mr Guterres stressed to the world leaders that despite the call for solidarity, very little has been achieved and that COVID-19 was a wakeup call for all, saying that if the world cannot address this virus, the economy can never recover.
Further, the Secretary General of the United Nations called upon all leaders to take responsibility to provide a stronger and a resilient society and have human rights in all that they do, including the continuous battle and commitment to address the climate risks among the vulnerable community.
In addition, other notable leaders including President Xi Jinping of China, President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, President Emmanuel Macron of France, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany , Prime Minister Mia Mottley of Barbados and President Moon Jae-in of South Korea also addressed the floor during the opening segment and impressed on the urgent need for global solidarity now than ever before.
The World Health Assembly is the decision-making body of WHO. It is attended by delegations from all WHO Member States and focuses on a specific health agenda prepared by the Executive Board. The main Agenda for this virtual WHO Session this year firstly is to coordinate a global response amongst Health and Political leaders to address the COVID-19 pandemic and second, to ensure that the governance mechanism of the organization continues through the appointment of new Executive Board members including the review and approval of the proposed programme budget.