Today, May 22, 2023, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra joined leaders from across the world in Geneva, Switzerland for the 76th World Health Assembly (WHA).
Below are Secretary Becerra’s remarks, as prepared and delivered.
Excellencies, esteemed colleagues.
In the resolution that anchored U.S. membership in the WHO in 1948, President Harry Truman declared that it is “mutual helpfulness among nations…[which] alone can lead to peace and security for all peoples.” That call for nations to work together for the health and wellbeing of all people is as important today as it was 75 years ago.
The United States is proud to be both a strong partner and a leader in global public health.
We believe in the importance of science, research, expanding knowledge, and embracing innovation.
We recognize the wisdom of preparation; the necessity of inclusion; the value of building core tools and platforms that save lives, and the urgency to invest in the health workforce that is central to all.
We understand and witness the benefits of building strong health systems based on equity, inclusion, and opportunity. To build that equitable and inclusive world, we must ensure sexual and reproductive health and rights for all. We must include the voices of women, minorities, and LGBTQIA+ populations in our decision-making.
And, at this pivotal time for health, we also stand to condemn Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, in violation of the Charter of the United Nations.
Russia’s attacks have destroyed numerous health facilities, maimed and killed civilians and health workers. And Global food system are being disrupted. That risks increasing poverty and malnutrition for millions. The international community must, and the United States will continue to, stand with the people of Ukraine.
We have common health problems worldwide that require shared solutions. Maternal mortality. Cancer. Infectious disease. Behavioral health and substance use disorders, especially from synthetic drugs. Climate change. The next potential pandemic is never far away.
We have come together before in pursuit of audacious goals, to face down threats, and we have succeeded. We can do it again. That “we” includes constructive stakeholders who have a role to play. The United States continues to strongly support Taiwan’s meaningful participation at the World Health Assembly and in the WHO’s work more broadly.
The WHO embodies our shared values and remains vitally important to the global struggle for health and well-being. President Biden and the United States are fully committed to the WHO.
Together, let’s commit to reaching agreement both on the pandemic accord and targeted amendments to the International Health Regulations in this coming year.
Let’s seize this moment and regain momentum towards achieving our global goals on health.
And let’s embrace mutual helpfulness and collectively work towards peace, health, and equity for all.