Celebrating its 75th anniversary, the World Health Organization’s director-general, called on global leaders, to take action to protect and invest in health and care workers responding to health and climate emergencies.
“The history of WHO demonstrates what is possible when nations come together for a common purpose,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who has led the organization through the COVID-19 pandemic.
The world health body said that investments in education, skills and decent jobs for health need to be prioritized to meet the rapidly growing demand for health and avert a projected shortage of 10 million health workers by 2030, primarily in low- and middle-income countries.
Seventy-five years ago, in the aftermath of World War II, the deadliest and most destructive war in human history, the Constitution of the WHO came into force.
On Friday, April 7, the WHO will mark the anniversary along with its 194 member states and other partners by calling for a renewed drive for health equity.
“We have much to be proud of but much work to do to realize our founding vision of the highest attainable standard of health for all people,” said Tedros.
Tedros said the world continues to face vast inequities in access to health services, significant gaps in the world’s defenses against health emergencies, and threats from health-harming products and the climate crisis.
“We can only meet these global challenges with global cooperation,” he said.
In order to meet these challenges, the WHO is urging countries to take urgent action to protect, support and expand the health workforce as a strategic priority.
A global education program on basic emergency care targeting 25% of nurses and midwives from 25 low-and middle-income countries by the end of 2025 was recently announced by the WHO.
This emergency care program will provide nurses and midwives with the skills and competencies to make a significant difference in saving lives and reducing disabilities, it said.
The accord founding the WHO was a treaty between the world’s nations which recognized that health was a fundamental human right and essential to peace and security, said the global health body.
“Looking forward to the next 75 years and close to the turn of the next century, a renewed commitment to health equity will be the key to addressing future health challenges,” it said.
In the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic, the WHO’s roadmap to recovery includes an “urgent paradigm shift” towards promoting health and well-being and preventing disease by addressing its root causes and creating the conditions for health to thrive
The WHO urged countries to provide health by prioritizing primary healthcare as the foundation of universal health coverage.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that protecting health is fundamental to our economies, societies, security and stability,” said the WHO.
“Learning from the worst pandemic in recent history, WHO stands ready to support the world’s countries as they negotiate a pandemic accord, the revision of the International Health Regulations, and other financial, governance, and operational initiatives to prepare the world for future pandemics.”
Over the past five years, the WHO said it has invested in science and digital health, creating a science division led by the organization’s first chief scientist.
The WHO said the investment has come when science is under sustained attack every day.
“Countries must protect the public from misinformation and disinformation. The future of health depends on how well we power health through science, research, innovation, data, digital technologies and partnerships.”