Skip to content

REMARKS BY MR ONG YE KUNG, MINISTER FOR HEALTH AT THE WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION’S STRATEGIC ROUNDTABLE ON “ALL FOR HEALTH, HEALTH FOR ALL: THE WHO INVESTMENT CASE” DIALOGUE AND PANEL DISCUSSION, 28 MAY 2024

1.       Singapore is a small country, but we are a transport node for air as well as for sea. Many people do not know this, but a seven-hour flying radius around Singapore covers half the world’s population. We have 1.4 billion people living in China, 1.4 billion in India, 279 million in Indonesia, south of us just across the short strait. These are major population centres, which means during every COVID wave, we get all the strains. At the beginning of this year, we went through a JN.1 COVID wave. We submitted the genome sequencing and now we are undergoing another wave. The dominant strains are KP.1 and KP.2.
2.       These are not our genetic resource and neither do we claim ownership of it. These are just things around the world spreading and coming to us. We detect it, report it and we let the world know about it. We hope it is useful to the world. But as a transport node, we feel that we have a responsibility to the world. We hope to be a canary for the world. But the question that is constantly on our mind is whether there are enough canaries in the world, not just transport nodes, but also countries where zoonotic spillover is at risk.
3.       Therefore, as a small country that depends on the world to survive and earn a living, it is very important for us to uphold multilateralism. It is very important because we believe that countries cooperating together, coordinating our responses, can help us tackle and solve global challenges. When it comes to health, the World Health Organization (WHO) is the only multilateral institution that we have to coordinate our countries’ responses. The International Health Regulations (IHR) is the only framework that we have for us to guide our responses and fulfil our roles and responsibilities.
4.       Singapore is very supportive of the WHO’s investment case being launched today. We will be contributing S$24 million to the inaugural investment round to support the important work of WHO over its 14th General Programme of Work from 2025 to 2028.
5.       Our contribution would like to prioritise strengthening the core capacities of countries, especially developing countries, to raise health emergency preparedness, tackle antimicrobial resistance, increase global vaccine coverage, especially for the at-risk groups. While Singapore is a small country, we always do what we can to support multilateral institutions, including the WHO, and to strengthen frameworks such as the IHR. Thank you very much.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *