"I believe the best days for health are ahead of us, not behind us," said Dr. Margaret Chan Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO) in her opening remarks at the 65ª World Health Assembly. She also advocated for universal health coverage as the "single most powerful concept that public health has to offer".
The Sixty-fifth session of the World Health Assembly is taking place in Geneva during 21—26 May 2012. At this session, the Health Assembly will discuss a number of public health issues such as universal health coverage, Millennium Development Goals, noncommunicable diseases, mental disorders, nutrition and adolescent pregnancy. The nomination of Dr Chan to be WHO Director-General for a second term will be submitted for approval. The Health Assembly will also discuss the programme budget, administration and management matters of WHO.
"Universal coverage is relevant to every person on this planet. It is a powerful equalizer that abolishes distinctions between the rich and the poor, the privileged and the marginalized, the young and the old, ethnic groups, and women and men", Dr. Chan said. "It is the best way to cement the gains made during the previous decade. It is the ultimate expression of fairness. This is the anchor for the work of WHO as we move forward."
It is true that money is thigh and the future of the world economy looks uncertain, she said. "Money is important, but many other factors drive progress in public health".
She suggested countries to work on three lines to help maintain the momentum for health. "Get back to the basics, like primary health care, access to essential medicines, and universal coverage", she said. As budgets shrink, she called to look to innovation as never before, but the one that resides in simplicity. At last, she advised to "use research, use science".
"I see the role of WHO as that of a global health guardian, a protector and defender of health, including the right to health. WHO is a custodian of technical expertise, but also of values, like social justice and equity, including gender equity, " Dr. Chan said. "We must never forget our value system. Never forget the people. Public health is trained in compassion and driven by passion. This will always be our strength, our true comparative advantage".