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President of the Assembly




Distinguished guests


Ladies and gentlemen


1.             I want to first congratulate the World Health Organization (WHO) for all its achievements to advance the health and safety of humankind for the past 75 years.


2.             As a post-World War II international institution, WHO was established at a time of optimism and hope, of a world hoping to come together to collectively pursue enduring peace and stability.  And that must also mean countries working together – to trade, to communicate, solve global problems, including spread of diseases and responding to health emergencies. 


3.             Today, unfortunately, that sense of optimism and hope has waned. War, geopolitical uncertainties, big power rivalry, stalling of multilateral trade have cast doubts over the effectiveness of international cooperation, and the strength of international institutions. 


4.             Nevertheless, I believe the WHO can defy that pessimism and skepticism because of the unique situation that we have gone through. After emerging from the devastating COVID-19 pandemic crisis, our community is reliving the spirit, attitudes, and mindsets of post-World War II.  We know that despite the hiccups and our fair share of failures, we have eventually overcome the crisis together and prevailed over the pandemic.  We know we cannot waste this post-crisis moment.  We know we cannot afford to arrive at a wrong conclusion post-crisis.  Now is the time to invest in, to improve multilateral cooperation in health, instead of walking away from it.


5.             Indeed, there are many major challenges that need our collective attention now.  Prepare for future pandemics.  For example, there is much to do to advance vaccine development and ensure equity in pandemic preparedness. 


6.             We need to tackle the biggest social transformation of this generation happening in many parts of the world and in Asia, which is ageing. We cannot reverse ageing, but we can preserve health. A sustainable healthcare system, with a strong upstream emphasis on preventive care, is the crux of the response.  


7.             We need to embrace and support technological advancements in medical science, such as in precision medicine. They can bring tremendous possibilities to treat and cure diseases but at the same time we need to safeguard the downsides.


8.             We need to improve the key social determinants of health in many countries – education, employment, living conditions and the environment.


9.             At this milestone juncture, let us all renew our commitment and fervour, to work together to bring about better health and well-being to the world.  Thank you.

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