Honourable Chairperson, Distinguished Delegates,
Thank you for the opportunity to speak on behalf of the World Medical Association (WMA), supported by the World Health Professions Alliance (WHPA), representing over 31 million physicians, nurses, pharmacists, dentists and physical therapists in more than 130 countries.
We welcome the Director General’s report on WHO’s work in Health Emergencies.
We are alarmed not only by the number and severity of emergencies, but also by the fact that healthcare professionals and facilities are increasingly attacked during situations of armed conflict – a clear violation of international humanitarian and human rights law. We urge those involved in conflicts to protect civilians as well as healthcare capacities, and to respect the ethical obligation of health personnel to treat all patients, irrespective of who they are. We call for the full implementation of the Ethical Principles of Health Care in Times of Armed Conflict and other Emergencies endorsed by civilian and military healthcare organizations in 2015. We urge governments to fulfil their obligations under international human rights and humanitarian law and to implement the UN Security Council Resolution 2286 condemning attacks and threats against medical personnel and facilities in conflicts situations and demanding an end to impunity for those responsible.
Furthermore, we strongly recommend:
- to facilitate research into the timeliness and effectiveness of international interventions, so that planning and interventions in future health emergencies are be better informed;
- to develop collaboration with health professional organizations to ensure that accurate and timely clinical care guidelines are available to healthcare providers; and
- WHO and other UN agencies working with governments and relevant partners, as infections emerge or reemerge, to continue to ensure that easy-to-understand information is available to all people in the affected zone, in particular on disease prevention, optimal hygiene and infection control practices.