“I envision a world in which everyone can live healthy, productive lives, regardless of who they are or where they live.
“I believe the global commitment to sustainable development – enshrined in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – offers a unique opportunity to address the social, economic and political determinants of health and improve the health and wellbeing of people everywhere.”
Those are the vivid lines of Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, as he began a five-year term on Saturday, July 1, 2017 as Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Dr Tedros previously served as Minister of Health and Minister of Foreign Affairs in Ethiopia and as Board Chair of the Global Fund and Roll Back Malaria Partnership.
The new WHO boss plans to focus on five main areas of work during his tenure. They are: achieving universal health coverage; strengthening the capacity of national authorities and local communities to detect, prevent and manage health emergencies; improving the health and well-being of women, children and adolescents; addressing the health impacts of climate and environmental change; and building a transformed, transparent and accountable WHO.
In a statement, he stressed that achieving this vision would require a strong, effective WHO that is able to meet emerging challenges and achieve the health objectives of the SDGs.
“We need a WHO – fit for the 21st century – that belongs to all, equally. We need a WHO that is efficiently managed, adequately resourced and results driven, with a strong focus on transparency, accountability and value for money,” he added.
He the vision statement, Dr Ghebreyesus emphasisied: “When people are healthy, entire communities and nations thrive – indeed, the whole world benefits. I will engage with Heads of State, Ministers across a wide range of portfolios, multilateral institutions, the UN system, civil society and the private sector to make access to health care and protection from infectious disease outbreaks a central component of the world’s security, economic and development agendas.
“This will include implementing the International Health Regulations and addressing emerging threats, such as antimicrobial resistance, climate and environmental change and non-communicable diseases. Such engagement will enable WHO and national health authorities to effectively perform their core functions, reaffirm WHO’s leadership in securing a healthier and safer world, and ultimately drive progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals.
“The right of every individual to basic health services will be my top priority. I will champion mechanisms to meaningfully listen to, learn from and engage people and communities – including migrant, displaced and disabled individuals; people living in rural, urban slum and low-income areas; and other vulnerable populations.
“This engagement – and what we learn from it – will be at the centre of our efforts to mobilise resources and hold authorities accountable for the health of all, regardless of age, gender, income, sexual orientation or religion.
“Improving global health requires effective engagement with all Member States and across multiple sectors. Under my leadership an enhanced and independent WHO will take a science-led and innovation-based approach that is results-oriented and responsive, maximises inclusive partnerships, and ensures collective priority setting with all stakeholders. In particular, I will champion country ownership, so that countries are at the table, as full and equal partners, to guide and make the decisions that will affect the health of their populations.
“WHO’s work touches hundreds of millions of lives around the world. Every programme, every initiative, every allocation of funding is so much more than a statistic or line in a budget. It is a life protected. It is a child who gets to see adulthood. It is a parent who watches their child survive and thrive. It is a community living disease free or an entire country or region that is better prepared for emergencies or disasters. This is the difference WHO can make, working hand-in-hand with Member States and global partners.”