Swiss President Alain Berset opens 76th WHO World Health Assembly

Geneva, 21.05.2023 - Alain Berset, president of the Swiss Confederation, has opened the 76th World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva and congratulated the World Health Organization on its 75th anniversary. In his address, Alain Berset underscored the importance of multilateral cooperation and the central role of the WHO in global efforts to improve pandemic preparedness. This year's World Health Assembly will take place from 21 to 30 May. Switzerland has been nominated for a seat on the WHO Executive Board from May 2023 to May 2026.

In the WHO's 75th anniversary year, the theme of the World Health Assembly is 'WHO at 75: Saving lives, driving health for all'. In his opening address, Swiss President Alain Berset emphasized the importance of WHO as a multilateral organisation in the global health architecture and its role in global efforts to improve pandemic preparedness.

The president of the Swiss Confederation advocated strengthening the International Health Regulations (IHR) and enhancing multilateral cooperation in order to better tackle global health crises. He added that the pandemic had shown that the rapid and reliable exchange of information is crucial for the monitoring and early detection of dangerous diseases. He also called for sustainable financing of WHO so that the organisation will continue to have the necessary funds to meet the high demands of its Member States and be able to play a coordinating role in the prevention and control of global health crises.

Global Health for Peace Initiative
Switzerland supports the Global Health for Peace Initiative (GHPI), developed in collaboration with Oman. The GHPI aims to strengthen universal health coverage. A roadmap for the implementation of the initiative is to be approved at this year's Assembly.

For example, WHO is active in fragile, conflict-affected and vulnerable settings where it works closely with ministries and partners to better protect the health of the population. It focuses, for example, on protecting hospitals, ensuring universal access to healthcare facilities, training doctors and nurses to work in difficult conditions, and providing psychological support for young people who have experienced violence. Corresponding programs are currently under way in various countries, including Colombia, Somalia and the Central African Republic. At this year's World Health Assembly, Switzerland is organising an event in collaboration with Oman to present specific examples.

Switzerland to take a seat on the Executive Board
The World Health Assembly (WHA) elects the members of the WHO Executive Board. It is composed of representatives of 34 Member States. Switzerland was nominated for a seat on the Executive Board for the period from May 2023 to May 2026.

The WHA is the highest decision-making body of the WHO. Each year, delegates of WHO Member States meet in Geneva in May to review the organization's thematic priorities and financial and organizational policies, and to discuss and approve proposed programmes.

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