In an energetic presentation, World Health Organization director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has kicked off the agency’s annual conference in Geneva by vowing to use his position to keep the world safe and to serve the vulnerable by promoting health for all.
The overflow audience at the Assembly enthusiastically marked the World Health Organization’s 70th Birthday. WHO Chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus agreed there was much to celebrate. But noted there was little joy in the Democratic Republic of Congo where health workers were risking their lives to stop the Ebola outbreak in that country.
“It is concerning that we now have cases of Ebola in an urban center, but we are much better placed to deal with this outbreak than we were in 2014. I am pleased to say that vaccination is starting as we speak today,” he said.
Tedros said this was only the latest of 50 emergencies in 47 countries and territories to which WHO has responded in the past year. He noted the best way to prevent future disease outbreaks and emergencies was to strengthen health systems everywhere.
“That is why we established a High-Level Commission on Noncommunicable Diseases, to stop the premature and preventable deaths of millions of people," he said. "It is why we established an initiative on climate change and health in small island developing states ... It is why we are working on an aggressive new initiative to jumpstart progress against malaria, an entirely treatable disease that still kills half a million people every single year.”
WHO has rolled out an ambitious new five-year strategic plan, which aims to make a big impact on health. Tedros said the goal is to achieve the highest attainable standard of health for all peoples in the world, poor and rich alike.